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January 2011



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Diane Van Deren running on a mountain
Diane says running in the mountains gives her a feeling of security

By Steven Lynch
BBC News

In 1997, Diane Van Deren decided to have brain surgery in a bid to stop the epileptic seizures that were dominating her life.

Twelve years on, Diane, from Sedalia in the US state of Colorado, is a champion long-distance runner – an ultra-runner – and free from seizures.

In February, she was the first woman to complete 430 miles (690km) on the Yukon Quest Trail.

The race is known as the coldest, most difficult and extreme race in the world.

She pulled a sled with over 20kgs of food, clothing and equipment and slept just two or three hours a night.

Given her medical history, her achievement was even more staggering.

At the age of 16 months, Diane had a very high fever and was taken to hospital, where she was packed in ice for three days in an attempt to reduce the fever.

During that time she had a seizure that lasted more than 50 minutes.

She was released from hospital days later, seemingly recovered.

However, 24 years later Diane began to have regular seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy.

The seizures grew worse and over time she felt her role as a mother was suffering.

“It got to the point where my children were starting to care for me and worrying about me,” she told the BBC World Service.

“Every time I took a bath I would have to tell my kids or husband to come check on me, because people do die of seizures in bathtubs,” she says.

Diane even had to teach her children how to drive, so that if she did have a seizure they would know how to turn the car off and how to get help.

Tingling sensation

Diane Van Deren

Diane trains four to eight hours a day

Diane would always have a premonition before the onset of a seizure.

“Before my seizures I would get this tingling sensation in my body, and the feeling of this rising in my stomach,” she says.

“Basically what happens when a seizure occurs, your brain is just fried.

“And when I had come out of the seizure then I’d have this horrendous headache and my body would be aching and sometimes I actually had blood coming out of the side of my mouth from biting on my tongue.

“Sometimes it would take hours to recover from a seizure and sometimes even days.”

Diane eventually developed a way to cope.

Whenever she felt a seizure coming on she would run to the front door, put on her shoes and go running in the nearby Pike National Forest.

Read Article in Full:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8238048.stm

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