Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer seizures not related to Epilepsy

Initially, Jay Goulden was put at ease; the ambulance carrying his son toward Iowa City had left its lights off.Then, halfway down I-380, the emergency vehicle started racing at a 90-mph clip."To see a kid who's never had any health problems at all (in that situation), it was traumatic," said the Cedar Falls resident, recalling an incident from June 9."You don't know when it's gonna stop ... and things go through your head like, 'Will he be able to go to college?'

"I tell you, it's been a long summer."Originally, in the midst of Jason Goulden's 25 summer seizures, doctors thought it was epilepsy. Then they diagnosed it as a viral infection. Now, they're not certain what it was.Regardless, Jason Goulden is back. And seemingly better than ever.In July, Jason Goulden needed a speech therapist. This week, he's a kicker for one of the premier Division III football programs in the nation, Central College.In a whirlwind, barely 10-week span, Goulden had picked himself up off the canvas, dusted off and attacked adversity with a clenched fist.

Jason's memory remains hazy as he recalls a nightmarish summer. But he knows this much ...Around June 8, the 18-year-old, a former standout Cedar Falls football player, fell while working at Hillcrest Apartments. A seizure soon followed. As did 12 days in the hospital."I just remember waking up one day at a hospital in Iowa City, thinking, 'OK, what am I doing here?'" Jason recalled this week."It was just a big shock -- a big wake-up call to me," he added, "that something like this could happen just out of the middle of nowhere, with no rhyme or reason."Finally, after 10 worry-filled days, Jason's seizures subsided.

Few answers, however, followed. His prognosis is still slightly uncertain."I'm 99 percent sure it's never gonna happen again," said Jay Goulden. "But I'm not gonna lie to you: there's that 1 percent in the back of your head that says it could."You say a little prayer that it won't."Finally, after multiple spinal taps and countless tests, Jason returned home to Cedar Falls. However, his mind, still recovering from a state of shock, needed to be re-booted.

Jason had to re-learn how to do things that a couple weeks earlier had essentially been involuntary acts, including kicking a football -- something that his college football career was centered around."He had flat-out forgot how to kick," Jay Goulden said of his son, who racked up 86 points his final two seasons as a Cedar Falls kicker."After his head got zapped after 25 seizures ... it was like a computer; you just had to hit the right button and it re-started."

The recent Cedar Falls grad spent his days shuttling from speech therapy at 8 a.m. to physical therapy at 9:30 to workouts around noon.But the day Jason returned to his former, All-Metro kicking form, his overall recovery seemed to begin in earnest.On a gusty, late-July day at Peet Junior High, longtime Cedar Falls football coach Pat Mitchell witnessed Jason's re-birth as a standout athlete."He was kicking in as nasty of a wind as I've seen all summer," said Mitchell, "and he was kicking as good as ever -- from 45 yards."

"At first it was just really frustrating, not being able to (kick) right away was ... bearing down on me," Jason explained. "But going back and learning it again made the whole process feel better and make me feel I can get through this. It was just like a weight was lifted off my shoulders."


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