Dan is an inspiration to many around her. Her ability to keep on going despite her set backs is testimony to not only her strength and determination, but the loving support of her family. I first met Dan about 18 months ago when I joined Crossfit Ipswich. Dan had been turned away from many other sporting groups due to her medical conditions, but the dedicated team and community at CFI accepted her, and have supported her on her journey. It is not uncommon for Dani to have a seizure mid WOD (workout) shake it off, then get up and keep going.
Just to let you know how amazing she is, here is a bit more from Kerri Rye, one of Dani's Crossfit coaches and friends.
'' I first met Dani in February 2015 when Dani, along with her Mother Kerri, came to us after being turned away by so many other sporting facilities. I took Dani through her very first training session where I was teaching her the movements. During this time, Dani had a seizure. I must admit, I was a little scared the first time I witnessed it but seeing her jump up and want to keep going was inspiring.
Since then I have watched Dani have many, many seizures. These days, I barely do more than blink at them. I can easily and confidently see to Dani and continue coaching my class. It's just second nature now. It's never known what kind of state Dani will come out of the seizure in. Sometimes she comes out ready to go and continue her workout. Many times though she is Non-Verbal, unable to hear or in a 4 year olds mind and many times, she comes out as a budding Artist! Us, coaches always know when Dani has been in. We find lots of drawings and art work over the white board, which stays there for the duration of the day. Dani has become a very special person to us all."
Dan has written her story below for anyone who would care to read it. It is a very personal and raw account of how life her life has been up till now. Her openness and honesty in sharing her story is admirable.
Hi, my name is Dani Stevens and I am 21 years old. I would love the chance to get a service dog to take back my life and independence. This is my story. ...
When I was in year 12 I had my first seizure. At first they thought it was a one off but unfortuantely they continued. I was tested multiple times for epilepsy but tests came back negative. In search of answers I was put in hospital for a week to undergo a whole range of tests. In the end they said I had Reflex Anoxic Seizures.
I ended up missing 3 months of year 12 but luckily I still managed to keep my grades up and was able to get a good OP. I applied and got accepted into uni to study business. I had been working at Spotlight and at The Warehouse but left these to work in the TRACER department. My seizures became more manageable and I was eventually able to get my license. Life was back on track and I thought I had had my run of bad luck.
Then in 2013 I was walking back to my car after work and had a seizure. When I woke it was living my worst nightmare... I was sexually assaulted and threatened with a weapon. From that point on my view of the world around me changed. My life also changed dramatically. I started having seizures more frequently. Eventually my work told me I was unfit to work. I was also told I wasn't allowed to play hockey any longer which I had played since I was little. I lost my licence, lost the ability to study (which I have attempted multiple times online, but has been too difficult with memory loss from the seizures), lost friends and developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At this point I was now having up to 15-20 seizures in an hour, on a good day, multiple times a day. I was forever scared and living in fear. It was at that point I decided to take my own life. I attempted twice before finally accepting help.
My seizures were now classed as non epileptic seizures, bought on by stress and PTSD. I have managed to get my seizures back down to a few a week, but suffer from dissociation daily, which is also a result of PTSD. For those who don't know Dissociation Disorder is a defense mechanism caused by psychological trauma. When one dissociates they 'break' from their normal personality, for me it makes me revert to a childlike state.
Last year in February I finally managed to find someone who was willing to give me a go at being part of society again... Crossfit Ipswich. This community has been such a blessing to me, and kept me going the last year and a half, along with my parents and family. Now apart from crossfit and spending time with my parents, my life consists of seizures, Dissociation, PTSD (flashbacks and nightmares every day and every night), lots of specialist and doctor appointments, ER visits, and 7 surgeries. The surgeries are mainly a result of injuries sustained as a result of a seizures, but most recently I 've also had to have my gall bladder removed. I need to have someone with me at al times. I have lost friends, independence and am constantly living in fear... never really feeling safe in this world. So what would a service dog do for me? Firstly, it would not only be life changing for me but also my family. Mum or Dad pretty much have to be with me at all times. A service dog would be able to warn me of a seizure so I could take medication to stop it. It would calm and ground me when I'm getting anxious thus stopping seizures and/or dissociation. Perhaps the biggested thing a service dog would do for me is make me feel safe again in this world. I wouldn't feel like I always had to look over my shoulder. I would know that when and if I had a seizure, my service dog would be there to guard and protect me. I'm hoping it will give me back my confidence, my independence and eventually allow me to be a part of every aspect of society just like everyone else.
- Maree Weedon
- Howard Oorloff
- Josh Bardy
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