A Thicker Skin

In September of 2009, Seize the World interviewed Deanna Adams just after she completed the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race (GDMBR).  Deanna is a vegan athlete from Prescott, Arizona.  She also has Idiopathic Generalized Epilepsy and suffers from Grand Mal seizures.  However, this did not stop her from becoming the youngest woman to complete the race on a fixed gear bicycle or “fixie” at age 20. Deanna and her bike “Phoenix” have been on some pretty epic rides since the GDMBR.  In August of 2010 she biked 3,350 miles with her friend Adrian through Mexico and Central America in under 30 days.  In 2011 she rode 7,102 miles around Europe in 97 days.  Quite an epic trip!  Now Deanna is planning something even more ambitious.  This year Deanna and Phoenix will undertake a world tour spanning 6 continents and 30,000 miles!  Deanna is also determined not to let epilepsy get in the way of her dreams.

Deanna had her first seizure at 9 years of age.  Throughout her teenage years she went through a pretty rough time finding the right medication and choosing the right doctor, but now she is happy with her current epileptologist.  She currently takes Keppra XR, which has worked pretty well for her so far.  One of the most challenging aspects of Deanna’s epilepsy is that she doesn’t know what triggers her seizures.  Her seizures usually occur when she is sleeping.  Most people don’t have any fear of falling asleep, but this is when Deanna has experienced the most trauma and injuries.

316353_2370626628976_1964140_nDeanna biking in London on her European fixie tour.

Deanna says that epilepsy has made her “develop a thicker skin”.  She admits that it is frustrating having to accommodate all the things she has had to postpone and change because of epilepsy.  However, Deanna has found therapy in running and biking.  She says that both activities are great for her confidence and self esteem and that they keep her focused and happy.  She has been cycling competitively since she was 16 years old.  She has competed three times in the grueling Furnace Creek 508 race across the Mojave Desert and it was a major achievement for her to complete the 2700-mile GDMBR in 2009.

In a Deanna’s first interview with Seize The World she proclaimed that “Doubt Kills Dreams.”  Since then, she has learned another thing: how to become fearless.

Having a seizure while bicycle touring can be an extremely frightening thing.  Deanna’s worst fear was to have a seizure in a public place with no one she knows to help her.  After forty days of bike touring Europe with her friend, Adrian, her seizure medication supply was running low.  She started rationing what she had left.  While camping in the French Riviera near the town of St Raphael, Deanna had a seizure while brushing her teeth right in front of Adrian.  The seizure dislocated her shoulder, and they called for an ambulance.  At the hospital her doctor popped her shoulder back into place, put her in a sling, and forbid her to bike for three weeks.  Deanna’s tour was toast.

Devastated, Deanna made her way to the airport in Nice and parted ways with Adrian.  Then, while waiting for her flight home, her worst fear came true.  She had another seizure in the airport.  This time with no one around she knew to help her.  She awoke in awful pain in a hospital in Nice.  Deanna had now lived her worst fear. However, because she lived through it, she knew she didn’t need to have that fear anymore.  She was now fearless.  She decided to continue her tour of Europe.  She first took a train to her friend’s place in Amberg, Germany, which was the next big stop on her tour.  From the good graces of her friend, Deanna had some time to recuperate.  Her shoulder was still in some pain once she started up again, but she powered through it for the next few days.  Continuing solo though Europe breathed new life into Deanna’s soul and she continued to ride for the next two months through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy.  Deanna had a fantastic time finishing her tour and was very thankful she didn’t cut it short in France.

299420_2415133663674_465962775_nDeanna is all smiles just after entering Italy on her European Fixie tour

Bike touring Europe was a life changing adventure for Deanna.  Now that two years have passed, she is planning a world tour with the appropriate title, “Fixie World Tour.”  This time she hopes to change other people’s lives as well.  She explains, “People living with Epilepsy tend to socially isolate themselves…when there is absolutely NO REASON to.”  She goes on, “There needs to be more vocalization about the social isolation, fears, doubts, and small hopes that people tend to have living with epilepsy.”  Deanna hopes her tour will change the way people with epilepsy feel about their condition. She will be a living example of the incredible triumphs that someone with epilepsy can achieve.

Seize The World Foundation couldn’t be happier about Deanna’s world tour plans.  We plan to have a “Track Deanna” page on our website to keep everyone updated on her progress.

You can check out Deanna’s previous “Share Your Story” features here:

Doubt Kills Dreams

Q+A with Deanna Adams After the Great Divide

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