Thursday, January 2, 2014

Meet Eric Cobb - living life to the fullest in Orange County, CA

OM Member, Eric Cobb, shares his story for the first time. His positive outlook on life and resilience in dealing with his diagnosis is truly inspirational. From racing BMX in Arizona to embracing long Colorado winters to coming face to face with a 10 ft seal in California, Eric is a living example of how to live life to the fullest no matter your circumstances.

My story with epilepsy begins when I was at school in the seventh grade.  I was reading a book in class, and went into a grand mal seizure while I was reading.  I was not born with it, or experienced it at a very young age, so I was completely lost.  I had my second seizure a year later, and that was when I went on medications, and began testing to see what was happening with me.  It took about a year and a multitude of tests to come to the conclusion that I am an epileptic.
I had moved to Colorado from Arizona a few months before I had my first seizure, and it goes without saying I was not a winter sports fan.  I grew up racing BMX, and riding jet skis due to the decent to incredibly hot weather that permitted me to do so.  I would spend a lot of time in my dad’s garage building old cars, and star gazing in the evenings after a good game of hide and seek with neighborhood kids after Christmas dinner.  I spent all of my time outside doing anything I wanted…
Let’s fast forward to my move to the mountains, and my complications.  I didn’t know how to feel after the seizure, or the cold place I had moved to where my bike sat in storage, and no local race track to ride on, and an oversized ice rink for a lake.  I became angry at times, sad at others due to both the illness and the place I was, that I shut down.  However when summer came around and I could see that there was more to the world than dirt and pavement, I began my love affair with Colorado, and how everything else on my shoulders no longer mattered.
There were giants made of solid rock for me to climb, raging angry rivers made from the melting snow  atop the giant peeks that spread like veins across the land.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before coming from a hot flat desert.  I put my winter time video games away (due to my distaste for snow), and took full advantage of the playground that lay before me.  Though all of the summer activities were magnificent, I still had hatred for the long cold winter that followed me all the way through high school.
I had later made friends that were really into snowboarding, and would taunt me a lot because I would always stay inside and sulk about the cold, and that because of my diagnosis I couldn’t go party at the bar because I couldn’t drink, and the flashing lights that I would feel alone.  Eventually I had enough, and I finally saw the playground that Colorado transformed into during the winter that I began to go snowboarding.  I was scared of falling off the lift, or hitting a tree, but I grew confident, and knew in myself that I didn’t want to be alone and hat nothing would stand in my way.  I felt complete…
I joined Outdoor Mindset in the summer of 2011 as a mentor excited about the opportunity to work with people going through the same struggles as I had.  I went several years without incident, but nothing lasts forever.  My medications were causing me to have liver failure, and I had to make a change, which caused me to have to spend a lot of time on myself.  After about a year I had a seizure on my way to work in December of 2011, and crashed my car through a small cinderblock wall, and wooden fence.  I picked myself up, and pulled the car into the garage to start the rebuild on it right away.  Again I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way.
Now my seizure patterns were not even close to being as bad as most with maybe an episode every three years, due to my own faults not paying attention to my medication intake.  In December 2011, I had three seizures, one including the car accident, and it totally blindsided me.  I again was confused not knowing entirely what was happening; my new medication had negative effects on my moods, and would cause me to be very angry at times.  All of this confusion and anger mixed together caused me to draw the shades again.
It took about a month to get me on the right medication, and things began to look up.  No more wild mood swings, and I got back onto the path that I had been on for so many years.  I moved to California in October of 2012 and have been working with Outdoor Mindset to get things going in Orange County where I currently reside.  I had a seizure in early 2013, and continued with my positive outlook, and feel that I never even missed a step.  I try to get to the beach as often as I can to boogie board, and surf.  It has been awesome; I had a ten foot seal swim up to me one day!  I was scared for sure, but what an experience!  We just got done with a hike to the Hollywood sign in L.A. a few weeks ago.
I am thankful for all of the people in my life that pushed me (even the friends that taunted me) to experience life to the fullest, and not let anything get in my way, and that includes myself, and the way I handled things.  I am thankful to Outdoor Mindset for the mission to help us live for the best.  Even through my worst a few years ago, I remembered the motto and the commitments I made to the organization. 

Without them I would still be playing video games…

Thank you,

Eric Cobb

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