For those of you who do not know me well, I have had a headache every day of my life since Thanksgiving Day 1991. I was playing a friendly pick up game of football with family, when bad luck caused my former brother-in-law’s elbow to relocate my nose under my left eye. A freak accident, I was unconscious before I hit the ground, sustained a severe concussion, and have had a headache ever since.
Those headaches have sent me on a seemingly never-ending journey of medical appointments with Mayo Clinic and our local clinic affiliated with Mayo. MRIs, sleep studies, EEGs, etc. Which eventually lead Mayo Clinic to discover a venous angioma and cavernoma in my brain. And tiny periodic leaking of blood from the angioma “irritates” the region of my brain it is in, which periodically makes me feel sick to my stomach. Which Mayo Clinic has recently diagnosed as seizures. With those seizures causing me to be formally diagnosed with epilepsy.
I do not share that information with you in effort to look for special treatment or pity! Rather, I share that information in hopes of encouraging and inspiring others who face various challenges in life, medical and otherwise, to make some delicious “lemonade” as best you can, whenever life deals you lemons.
In the immortal words of Andy Dufresne from the movie Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” I had a choice to make back in 1991, and every day since. And I chose, and continue to choose, to get busy living! I have enjoyed a wonderful career creating map illustrations for over 550 clients in thirteen time zones. I have a wife and two amazing daughters, and have spent time (for work and play) in ten countries. And all but roughly 6-8 of the 1,513 disc golf courses I have played in my life have been played after sustaining my concussion.
I know other people in my life, when met with some bad medical news, or who have faced the end of a relationship, who essentially have ”got busy dying,” and it is heartbreaking to watch. People who have so much happiness, love, creativity and ideas to give, reduced to feeling sad/bitter all the time. Essentially angry at the world, while waiting to die.
Disc golf has been a big part of both my physical and mental health over the years, and not a day goes by without me feeling grateful to Steady Ed (Headrick) for creating such a marvelous sport for us all to enjoy! So when I recently learned that I have epilepsy, I haven’t viewed that as any kind of ”death sentence” to the fun part of my life! Rather, I have viewed it as an opportunity to help others with the disorder feel more comfortable in talking about it. Use the opportunity to help introduce more people to great organizations such as the Epilepsy Foundation.
As far as seizures are concerned, I have been extremely lucky…only experiencing nausea. You and I could be in a car, meeting or enjoying dinner together, and you would never know I was having a seizure! So I have been trying to count my blessings and continue to ”get busy living!” And with proper medication, Mayo thinks I have hundreds of new courses left in me! 🙂
If any of you out there have been playing disc golf with epilepsy, have been dealing with other ”lemons” that disc golf has helped you live with and overcome? Feel free to share your own story in the comments section of this post. Let your choice to ”get busy living” help serve as an inspiration to others too.
Magic Number = 487 (1,513 Courses Played)
About Tonn’s Travels
How it All Got Started: Tonn’s Travels >>
A main purpose of this blog will be to share information, helpful tips and tricks (everything from health and fitness to methods for saving money while you’re out “bagging courses” of your own), and ideas for better, safer course design. But I am also hoping to inspire others with my passion for the sport, via the stories I can share about all of the interesting experiences I have. All of the interesting people I meet. All of the amazing courses I am blessed to have the opportunity to play. If I can inspire even a handful of individuals to get off the couch, get “out of their bubble” or “security blanket” and explore more of this big, beautiful planet we all call home? Then I will consider this effort a success.
Derek Tonn is a member of the DGA’s Ambassador Team. His company, Mapformation, LLC, has been DGA’s partner in the development of disc golf tee signage since 2012. The longer our two companies have worked together, and the more Derek has gotten to know all the great folks at DGA, the more he has wanted to formally sing the company’s praises. The more he has realized that “Steady” Ed the father of disc golf and the modern day Frisbee vision for the sport and his company perfectly describes his own interests and priorities related to disc golf, and the more Derek has recently been encouraged to share his story.