GREENWICH, Conn. — When Greenwich High senior Patrick Clisham was diagnosed with epilepsy as a freshman, he was afraid it would keep him from doing the sport he loves.
But Patrick, 17, is still able to swim competitively — he is co-captain of the GHS swim team — and he plans to continue at the Division 1 level this fall at Loyola University Maryland.
"The only thing I wasn’t able to do was deep sea diving by myself, which i wasn’t planning on doing anyway.," he said.
But Patrick was angry after getting the diagnosis and thought it was unfair.
"Many people don’t know that you can develop epilepsy as a teen or as an adult," he said. "You can actually develop epilepsy at any stage of your life. In my case, I didn’t have a seizure until my freshman year."
Doctors said it was "probably a fluke," Patrick said. "Unfortunately 14 months later, I had another seizure and at this point my doctor gave me my official diagnosis."
"I thought of all these hypotheticals where I would never be allowed to drive or I would have to quit swimming. Luckily, all these didn’t come true."
Patrick now is preparing to take part in the Sharon’s Ride.Run.Walk for Epilepsy event May 21 at Cove Island Park in Stamford to raise money for epilepsy research "so that one day, everyone will be able to control their seizures."
"Although I’m lucky enough to take medicine to control my seizures, some people can’t and they have many seizures a day," Patrick said.
His other goal is "to help others with epilepsy come out and not be afraid or embarrassed of their diagnosis. One in every 27 people have epilepsy but many are afraid to admit it," he said.
Team Pat will include the "friends and family who support me every day," he said. ( Click here to make a donation to support Team Pat.)
What would he like others to know about living with epilepsy?
"As long as I take my medicine and watch my sleep, I live a normal life," Patrick said. "My diagnosis doesn’t change the fact that I’m a normal person who does normal things. ... This diagnosis didn’t change who I am."
The annual Sharon’s Ride.Run.Walk for Epilepsy supports the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut.
Registration begins at 11 a.m. May 21 and the event starts at noon. Registration is $25 and includes lunch and a T-shirt and can be done in advance at www.epilepsyct.com/sharon.php or on-site at the event.
For more information on the Sharon’s Ride.Run.Walk for Epilepsy, email email@example.com or call 860-346- 1924.