By Joel Hillan
DENVER (CBS4)– John Olson was diagnosed with epilepsy at five years old. Nothing, not even medications, could control the seizures.
“It was hard to take, to see John having seizures, to see the ambulance come, to see it coming at all times of day and what the medicines will do to John,” said Tom Olson, John’s father.
About five years ago, John was introduced to a new tool called a Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS.) The implanted device tracks his heart rate, when it senses a seizure it sends a signal to John’s brain, controlling the seizure.
John says this changed everything for him, “I was able to ski, work at my job at the hospital, and do all of the amazing things I used to not do.”
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Amazing things like hiking the Grand Canyon without any issues.
John now donates his time to the Denver Botanical Gardens Chatfield Farms; work which earned him a special volunteer award this year.
He also speaks to kids at Children’s Hospital, sharing a message of hope to kids in the neurological unit.
“Life is a great life where you just believe in yourself and believing in yourself is a great attitude,” he implores.
John and his father Tom hike to raise awareness for epilepsy. On Friday, they will complete their 30th hike, which will be to the summit of Mt. Sherman.
The VNS device John wears was approved this past summer for children as young as 4 years old.