Hi, I'm Bry- a division 1 athlete & lifestyle blogger writing about how to get through the changes that life brings- Ask me anything!

Bryana Cielo
Jul 5, 2018

After an unexpected seizure and epilepsy diagnosis a few months ago, I decided to start a blog about how to get your life back after facing major hurdles in life. Epilepsy has inspired me to see that life is far too short to waste worrying about trivial things, and I can truly say that I have never felt better! I am now writing to share my experience with others and inspire them to see things a little bit differently. Read my story and check out my blog at https://inthismoment.co/

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What were you doing when you had your first seizure? Do you remember how you felt afterwards?
Jul 12, 9:31PM EDT0
Why do you feel like your story is worth sharing? What do you hope people take away from it?
Jul 12, 8:15PM EDT0

A few weeks before my first seizure, I met a friend who shared with me that they had epilepsy. I remember having full blown panic attacks because I was so uninformed and so afraid that I wouldn't know what to do if he had a seizure when I was alone with him. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about the disease and had no knowledge of seizure first aid. A month later, I was at a neurologist being diagnosed with the same disease. I look back now and wonder how I could've been so uninformed. I think a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of seizures and epilepsy, mostly because there isn't enough awareness about the disease. 1 in 26 people are diagnosed with epilepsy, and I believe that like CPR, seizure first aid should be common knowledge. The lack of awareness that surrounds the disease leads to epileptics being judged and discriminated against. I have already felt the brunt of some of that discrimination. I believe that if there is more knowledge, more lives will be saved and epileptics will feel more comfortable sharing their story. When I was first diagnosed, I struggled a lot because I didn't know of anyone who also had epilepsy, so I felt extremely alone. I shared my story so that other people who suffer from epilepsy don't feel as alone. I hope people that read my story obtain an awareness about the disease and people who don't have epilepsy can relate their struggle to what I've been through.

Jul 12, 8:47PM EDT0
Being a D1 athlete, what is your greatest ambition when it comes to sports?
Jul 12, 7:45PM EDT0

Swimming is a very tough sport because its pretty individual. Of course, it's been a goal of mine to give it my all in the pool and improve my times at meets, but I think, more importantly, I wanted to serve as someone who could unify the team and eventually maybe have the opportunity to become a leader. I think it's important to have a great team environment, especially in a sport like swimming or track that can feel so individual. My biggest goal since coming to college has been to help create a great environment for my team on the pool deck.

Jul 12, 8:25PM EDT0
Do the medications you take have any side effects that affects your every day activities?
Jul 12, 2:14PM EDT0

Yes, absolutely. I am currently taking almost the highest possible dosage of Keppra, and it causes depression and exhaustion. The side effects have definitely decreased a lot since I first started taking it, but they are still very much present in my everyday life. I am able to get through my day and do everything I need to do, but I often find myself very exhausted by 6:00 pm. I am learning to get used to it, though.

Jul 12, 5:34PM EDT0
What is it that you are most grateful for?
Jul 12, 1:40PM EDT0

Through all of this, I am most grateful for my mom's support. She drove up to my college so many times to bring me to the doctor and she came to the hospital when I was admitted to the ER, even when she had a fractured hip. Since I've been home for the summer, she has taken it upon herself to drive me to work everyday because there is a law in New Jersey that you need to be seizure free for 6 months before driving a car again. She has done all of this for me with no complaints and total support, which has meant everything to me. I don't know where I would be without her.

Jul 12, 5:26PM EDT0
What is your current training regimen like while waiting to know whether you'll be cleared or not?
Jul 12, 1:40PM EDT0

I am still only about 4 months post shoulder surgery, so I'm not allowed to be back in the pool just yet. I have been doing some abs, running, and jump roping in preparation for the season because that's really all I can do right now.

Jul 12, 5:24PM EDT0
What are you studying at college? Has your epilepsy affected your studies in any way?
Jul 12, 12:20PM EDT0

I am a double major- Communications with a concentration in journalism and Media Arts with a concentration in Advertising & PR.

It has slightly affected my studies because when you suffer a seizure, for the next week or so, you feel extremely exhausted. I have missed classes because I didn't feel well enough and one time I actually ended up missing a midterm. However, my professors were wonderful and gave me time to make up the assignments I missed. The same thing happened when I had surgery to repair the shoulder damage I suffered from the first seizure- I missed some classes but my professors were wonderful and I ended up doing fine in my classes!

Jul 12, 5:23PM EDT0
Does the fact that you may not be cleared to swim worry you? How do you deal with it?
Jul 12, 11:57AM EDT0

It does worry me, because for my entire life, my identity has been swimming. It has been a huge part of who I am. I am not sure who I would be without it, but I have come to realize that everything happens for a reason. In the event that I don't get cleared, I will still have the opportunity to be involved with my team. I know that other opportunities will open up for me, and I have to trust that it will all work out.

Jul 12, 5:21PM EDT0
What is the sport at which you are a D1 athlete?
Jul 10, 11:26PM EDT0


Jul 10, 11:27PM EDT0
Are there restrictions enforced by the NCAA on athletes who have known medical conditions? If yes, how do those restrictions affect your life at as student athlete?
Jul 10, 2:23PM EDT0

I don't have any experience or knowledge about other medical conditions, but as far as my case with epilepsy goes, I just needed to be cleared by my doctors in order to compete again. I believe that the NCAA tends to go by what the professionals say, which makes sense. I don't think it's a common situation to have epilepsy as a competitive swimmer, I know for sure that my college has never seen a case of it.

After undergoing surgery and then suffering a second seizure in March, I am still waiting to see if I will be cleared to continue competing next season. I very well may not. It's really all up to the experts.

Jul 10, 6:48PM EDT0
What does it take to become a D1 athlete? Do you feel it's more challenging because of your condition?
Jul 10, 5:54AM EDT0

It took me 11 years of basically nonstop training to become a Division 1 athlete. I worked so hard from age to be able to accomplish what I did by getting a scholarship to college. Swimming competitively has absolutely been more challenging since I was diagnosed, mainly because people with epilepsy are much more at risk for drowning. It took me a lot of hard work and mental anguish to push myself to get back into the pool after suffering my first seizure. Also, during my first seizure, my shoulder dislocated and relocated, which caused me to need surgery to repair the torn labrum in my shoulder, which threw a wrench in my plans, considering I didn't really get to compete this season at all. It's also definitely more challenging because we have practice very early in the morning and I have to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, or else I am at higher risk for a seizure. It has been a huge adjustment, and it will continue to be as long as I continue to compete.

Jul 10, 6:44PM EDT0
Has yoru diagnosis affected your relationships with others? In what way?
Jul 10, 4:25AM EDT0

My diagnosis has strengthened my relationship with my boyfriend, my mom and stepdad, and a few of my friends. However, it also caused me to lose people. Some people just weren't able to handle being around when things got tough, which was honestly pretty difficult. However, going through this has made me realized how blessed and lucky I am to have the people who have been through all of this with me. It has caused me to see things differently and stand up for myself in unhealthy friendships.

Jul 10, 6:40PM EDT0
Who has been instrumental in your recovery journey?
Jul 9, 4:54PM EDT0

Definitely my family and best friends. I don't know what I would have done if my roommates had not been there to cry with me and stay in with me when everyone else was going out. My boyfriend also was unbelievable. He stayed with me and tolerated every fear I had, took me to the doctor, and listened to everything I had to say. I don't know how I would have made it through without them.

Jul 10, 6:38PM EDT0
Do you feel like you have a better appreciation of life now than before?
Jul 9, 11:51AM EDT0

Absolutely. I used to get very worked up about stupid little things that I thought were a big deal. Now, I definitely have more of a tendency to take every single day as a blessing because I could be in the hospital in an hour. My second seizure lasted 8 minutes, which is life-threatening. It's humbling when you learn through personal experience that life is fragile.

Jul 10, 6:37PM EDT0
What are examples of situations or topics that are two personal that you'll never share on your blog?
Jul 9, 4:46AM EDT0

I do not plan to write about my relationship with my boyfriend as well as some personal details from growing up. I have a complicated relationship with my parents and I think those things are better left unsaid.

Jul 9, 8:04AM EDT0
You have done an amazing job of creating a thriving business out of your blog. How would you describe your personal brand?
Jul 8, 5:10AM EDT0

I would describe my personal brand as a self improvement & a personal blog.

Jul 9, 8:03AM EDT0
Are there any parts of your life that you keep completely offline?
Jul 7, 10:33PM EDT0

Yes- I don't really plan on writing about my relationship with my boyfriend. I don't think that's appropriate to share with others.

Jul 9, 8:01AM EDT0
What are your best parts of being involved in the blogging community and how have you been able to create friendships with other bloggers?
Jul 7, 8:19PM EDT0

I haven't gotten super involved with the blogging community yet, I just started. However, I definitely have been able to find blogs that I'm interested and have been able to interact with people who are interested in mine. I look forward to creating friendships with other bloggers.

Jul 9, 8:01AM EDT0
With so many emails, meetings, and balancing working from home, what are your organizational tips and tricks?
Jul 7, 2:42PM EDT0

I'm a college student on summer break with a part-time internship, but I'd say one of the biggest things I'd suggest for blogging is to have a few articles in drafts at all times. You might have something unexpected come up or hit some writer's blog. Also, I think it's fun and effective to pick one day each week to post a blog post. I always look forward to Wednesdays because I get to post, and it makes me so excited. I hope to have an audience that looks forward to Wednesdays, too.

Jul 7, 7:49PM EDT0
After years of blogging, do you ever find it challenging to come up with new content?
Jul 7, 3:17AM EDT0

I just started blogging about a month ago.

Jul 7, 9:15AM EDT0
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