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John’s Story

By: John Olson

Hi, my name is John Olson. I am 22 years old and have been living with epilepsy since I was 4 years old. I try not to let the disorder get me down or prevent me from doing the things in life that I enjoy. I realize that some things I do are risky, but I am also smart about using precautions when I participate in certain events.

I was a competitive swimmer and qualified for the state championships in high school and was named the swimmer of the year by the league coaches. I feel it’s important for people with disabilities to get involved as much as they can with public activities. This is one way to bring awareness of the disability, such as epilepsy. Sure, I had some seizures while swimming, but I had great support from the coaches and teammates.

I have been downhill skiing since I was seven years old. I have become a pretty good skier and usually do the moguls and the black diamond runs. It is always important to let the people that I ski with know what to do in case of a seizure and wear my medic alert dog tag.

In 2002, I had brain surgery (Vagus Nerve Stimulation) to help stop or control the seizures that I was having. The surgery was partially successful, but it never stopped the seizures. I still take a bunch of drugs that sometimes make me feel lousy and make it hard for me to comprehend written materials.

I went to technical school for two years and have a landscape assistant certificate. I work as a courtesy clerk in a store, but I would really like to work for a nursery or a state park. I have been a volunteer with Colorado state parks for seven years.