Hi my name is Brianna Wood and I am 20 years old. I am entering my junior year of college. My love for hockey started around the age of seven and I started playing hockey. I was involved in a lot of sports and as time went on those sports slowly faded away and it was hockey everything.
At the beginning of 2012 my life changed forever, basically I would never be able to be a normal kid anymore. I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 13. I had dreams of going to play prep school and college hockey and all of my dreams were up in the air. When my doctor said “I am sorry to inform you but you have Epilepsy” my heart stopped and he began to tell me that I have two different types of seizures: Clonic Seizures (grand mal), these seizures are when you drop to the floor and seize uncontrollably and the other one is called Petit Mal (absence seizures), which means I am there but I am not at the same time.
I never know when the absence seizures occur and I look like I am staring off into space and I just look blank. They both are bad but I think the grand mal seizures are the worst because you cause a scene and if people don’t understand seizures they normally call 911. I have had a couple of grand mals and a lot of absence but I have never had one at the rink.
When I was diagnosed I immediately asked can I still play hockey and my doctor said if you weren’t already playing I would tell you not to play but I want you to stay as normal as you can. I was relieved when I found out I could still play hockey.
I accomplished my dream of attending prep school and getting the opportunity to play prep school hockey, but it wasn’t easy. I still had problems with my epilepsy and had to change medication and change dosages while I was away. By my senior year it was under control and then my second dream became a reality when I received an offer to play college hockey at Aurora University. My dream of college hockey finally happened and I am now entering my junior year of college and I am still playing.
I am not saying that I have had it easy; I have had many doctor appointments, spent nights in the hospital for tests, rode in ambulances a couple of times and I missed out on some things because I was having a bad day. I have gotten a concussion and was kept out longer because of my epilepsy.
My epilepsy is controlled and I am four years seizure free. I couldn’t be happier because it is the best feeling ever. It showed me that by not letting epilepsy get in the way I was able to accomplish goals that I had set a young age.
My advice to anyone out there with epilepsy or any other medical problems is don’t give up. If I would have given up on my dreams who knows where I would have ended up. I didn’t let epilepsy stand in my way, I thought of it as a little bump in the road on my way to following my dreams. I didn’t let it control by life, I went about my life and didn’t worry about it unless there was something to worry about.
Are you a #WHLWarrior who has overcome adversity to play hockey?