“We’re going to go through the journey and we’re going to work hard. As long as we’re all together, we’ll get the results.” — Coach Jerry Kill
Now, this quote above may pertain to football solely. However, when I read this quote by Jerry Kill, I take away a completely different meaning. I reflect upon a very different journey. Something that he and I both and 65 million others around the world have in common. The Epilepsy journey.
I, as an epilepsy diagnosee and advocate with The Epilepsy Network (TEN), upon hearing of Jerry Kill didn’t think twice to want to share his story with the entire world. Jerry Kill is someone that I admire and look to as an inspiration along my very own journey with epilepsy. He never gives up. He never quits. He never throws in the towel and he vows to keep fighting on. No matter the difficulty of the struggle, no matter what some may negatively say, no matter what some may negatively think about epilepsy, it doesn’t cause him to miss a beat as he journeys on living life and inspiring those he meets. Coach Kill is without a doubt a hero.
In the beginning of February, I suffered multiple grand mal seizures back to back. In total, I had endured five seizures. The most I had ever had in a short amount of time in the history of my epilepsy diagnosis. Three grand mal and two absence seizures. Somewhat of a surprise to myself, my family and practically everyone who knew me since I had been on a streak of seizure freedom and positive health, for a good stretch of time. I was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as my husband and family raced to be by my side.
EEG and CAT Scan Testing later confirmed what I had already known. My Cavernous Angioma, my reason for my epilepsy, was still around causing trouble. Picking fights with someone who just doesn’t know the meaning of the words “Give Up”. Neurologists couldn’t conclude whether it had been my medication weakening or contributing factors that may have triggered the multiple seizures. Either way, something had awoken the sleeping giant. Whatever the case, I began the mental, spiritual, physical and emotional preparations of recovering.
I wouldn’t know until a few days later, having been heavily medicated, that the night of my multiple grand mal seizures, Paramedics had to cut the clothing away from me in order to do what was necessary to save my life. The night of my seizures, I happened to be wearing my JERRYSOTA T-Shirt. Paramedics were kind enough to salvage what they could of the shirt however, the shirt had to be cut off.
What is this JERRYSOTA some of you may be wondering? Jerry Kill is the Minnesota Gophers Head Football Coach at the University Of Minnesota and he too, like me and 65 million others around the world, has epilepsy. Though he has epilepsy, he doesn’t allow his condition to stop him from living and loving life to the fullest. He doesn’t allow his condition to stop him from coaching his team, encouraging them to go for the win, and rising above whatever storm clouds come his way. The JERRYSOTA T-Shirts were created by those who love and support Coach Jerry Kill regardless of the epilepsy diagnosis and are worn by those who love, support and can understand the journey Jerry Kill is on.
When I had become informed that the JERRYSOTA shirt had been cut apart, of course a part of me was sad that had to happen but I understood that it was something that needed to be done. I was grateful to the Paramedics that they were kind to take in to consideration to keep the shirt in as good of condition as they were able to and too, thankful that my husband kept the shirt for me to hold onto regardless. I held the shirt in my hands with astonishment, unaware of anything that had happened leading up to my arrival at the hospital. I had made the decision that though the shirt was destroyed and no longer wearable, that I would place the pieces of cloth in a frame to be hung upon a wall as a memory. A dedication to a hero in my eyes, Coach Jerry Kill. Thinking perhaps, one day I would have the opportunity to meet Coach Kill in person. Little did I know that, that day was to be approaching sooner than I could’ve imagined!
As time approached for me to go home, I had learned that Coach Kill would be attending the Walk For Epilepsy in Washington DC. All the while, my husband was creating preparations so that we too could attend the Walk For Epilepsy in Washington DC as a surprise. What a wonderful surprise and blessing it was indeed! A dream come true, not only to have the opportunity to attend the walk for epilepsy that I’d wanted to be a part of ever since becoming diagnosed, but to potentially be given the opportunity to meet Coach Jerry Kill and speak with him on the topics of epilepsy and epilepsy awareness!
Not knowing if the opportunity would come to pass to make his acquaintance, I packed the torn JERRYSOTA shirt along with me for the long journey to Washington DC even so. The walk for epilepsy was astounding and unforgettable, it being our first visit to the event and my first visit to the state. My soul was captivated with hope, faith and joy as I stood alongside my fellow advocates in purple. Having met many exceptionally inspiring people that day, I knew without doubt that this would not be my last event that I would attend.
Once completing the epilepsy walk with my husband, friends, and advocates, I was introduced to Coach Jerry Kill. It was a very humbling heart-warming experience. When he turned around to say hello, I sensed the kindness that everyone spoke of about Coach Kill before he’d begun to speak. In the time that we had to speak, I spoke with him about my epilepsy diagnosis, my latest stay in the hospital, the torn JERRYSOTA shirt and the kind of inspiration he is to me and so many others.
There were countless highlights throughout that very day, but that had to be at the top. I’m so grateful to God for making me well enough to be able to attend the walk. I wasn’t sure that I would be well enough to attend but The Good Lord paved the way for us to make it there. I am and will forever be grateful to my loving husband Chris for all that he did to make it possible for us to be able to go to Washington DC. And all of my family and friends who helped Chris and I to make our way to Washington for the epilepsy walk, my most sincerest love and gratitude I give to you.
I don’t know if I will see Coach Jerry Kill and his lovely wife again. Perhaps one day my husband and I will have the opportunity to stand alongside them at a Gopher Game! That would be just fantastic. You just never know.
Thank you Coach Jerry Kill for being an amazing inspiration and epilepsy advocate!
I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!