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Challenging epilepsy to wheel a change

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

Vinay Jani had epilepsy at 21 but it did not deter his spirits. In fact, he channelised his energy in the right direction and became limitless. Due to his sheer grit and determination, he has completed five half marathons, a full marathon and several Brevets – 200 kms, 300 kms, 600 kms and one 1000 kms.

Vinay Jani poses with his bike.

In July 2005, 21-year-old Vinay Jani had a seizure while driving down and due to which, he had an accident. After a few days, he faced a series of seizures. His family consulted a neurologist who recommended him to undergo a few scans. It was in an MRI scan that Vinay recalls the neurologist noticed a small cyst on the left emporia region of the brain.

Vinay was diagnosed with epilepsy and was suggested to get the tumour removed. But his family consulted another doctor, who suggested that that the cyst could be treated through medicines. Vinay was put on medicines for epilepsy.

“I initially started taking Ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines. Later, I switched to allopathic medicines from 2008-2011,” he shares.

In 2008, his complex partial seizure gradually became a generalised seizure. He gained weight as he stopped doing any physical activities and was forced to stay at home due to his condition. He also consulted another doctor to understand the complexity of the situation.

“The doctor told me that the medicines he was prescribing me were not as per my body weight. Now, it was up to me whether I wanted to loose weight or increase my dosage as per my dedicated body weight. I was 135 kgs then. I chose the former and started going to the gym with my friends,” he says.

Vinay started doing cardio sessions. Understanding his condition, he informed his friends to keep an eye on him while I was working out to avoid any accidents. Vinay was able to recover from epilepsy and for six years, between 2008 to 2013, he went seizure-free. His medication stopped and had also started driving.

However, in 2014, seizures knocked his door again. This time, Vinay consulted another neurologist. In November 2015, Vinay pushed the envelope and started doing endurance cycling with his friends. He initially rode for 30 kms and later upgraded to 50 kms, 70 kms and 100 kms.

To train himself, he joined a local gym and asked the gym trainer, who also happens to be an endurance cycler to train him in indoor cycling. The trainer then randomly asked Vinay if he would be interested in cycling outdoors. Initially, Vinay hesitated but upon the trainer's support and confidence in helping him, he agreed.

In May 2016, Vinay did his first Brevets de Randonneurs Mondiaux. Eventually, he has also completed five half marathons, a full marathon and multiple 200 kms, 300 kms, 600 kms ones, one 1000 kms.

So did seizure stopped while he trained to become an endurance cyclist? Vinay specifies that medicines helped in suppressing their reoccurrence. “Seizures happen. But whenever I go for a ride, I carry an SOS medicine and give the same to my friend, just in case something happens to me. I always tell my friends that if a seizure happens, let it happen. We will resume riding after the seizure has happened,” he clarifies.

He even attempted Paris-Brest-Paris Brevet which he regrets not completing due to an injury. He has also embarked upon his latest ride, a 1000 km Brevet that began from Gurugam to Kundli.

"This time I am riding to create awareness about epilepsy and to motivate other persons with epilepsy to believe in my philosophy -- there are no limits," he says.

Vinay’s self-belief, determination and grit has helped him challenge epilepsy. He also advises other epilepsy warriors to not let their condition deter their spirits. “I always tell people, ‘I had epilepsy but epilepsy could not have me’. That should be every epilepsy patients’ mantra”.

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