Donn Seidholz is a great storyteller- and he has great stories to tell. Donn shared stories about his time as a minor league baseball player, about his life-long devotion to athletics and fitness, his quest for answers about his peripheral neuropathy, and most, recently, his bout with COVID-19. We share some of Donn’s stories here.
Once an Athlete, Always an Athlete
Donn grew up in Wilmette Illinois- and lived so many boys’ dreams of playing baseball. After college, he played in the Triple-A league: the farm league for the Chicago White Sox. An article about his time in the league on the website called Fun While It Lasted noted the irony of the Cubs-loving kid growing up to be in the farm league for the White Sox, but for Donn, and others, it was an opportunity of a lifetime.
Donn credits his athlete days with his perseverance and approach to life. Once an athlete, always an athlete. There was no need to be reminded to push forward and push hard. Exercise and fitness have always been his ‘thing’. Physical and mental focus carried him through- needed when in 2014 he started feeling tingling and numbness in his feet and legs.
Searching For Answers
Donn started the exploration that so many peripheral neuropathy patients start: to find an answer to the numbness and tingling. After the battery of neurological test, it was indeed determined that Donn had peripheral neuropathy- and with no direct cause to be determined, he was diagnosed with idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.
While the mind can be a powerful tool to drive through traumas, it can also be a hindrance when fear and the unknown plague you with doubt. Donn found himself searching for answers, and filling himself with anxiety of the unanswered questions: will the peripheral neuropathy get worse? Will I end up in a wheelchair? How bad can it get?
Donn met his own fears with his focus on exercise: biking, running, gym training. He kept strong and kept active- and kept his neuropathy at bay.
And a New Challenge
In August 2020, Donn was again hit by a medical blow: he contracted COVID-19. He considers himself lucky. He, his wife, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law all contracted the virus at the same time. They were able to quarantine together and support each other through the illness.
But the illness did leave him more fatigued, with brain fog that he hadnt experienced before, and his peripheral neuropathy worse. Still, no pain, but numbness in his feet and legs leaving him whereby he can’t feel those extremities.
And again, Donn showed his strength to look for answers. He scheduled telehealth visits with the specialists at Mayo who confirmed the idiopathic diagnosis- but gave him the most he could have asked for. His PN had not progressed. His exercise and healthy lifestyle was keeping his peripheral neuropathy symptoms under control.
To the Future with a Clear Mind
Donn still keeps active- although now it is every other day with rest days in between. And he will make sure to wear shoes when he walks at the beach. But he takes walks with his children. He appreciates every day. And he stays ‘in the moment’ to let the best treatment- a good attitude and his own focused mind – keep him going.
When asked what Donn wished people knew about peripheral neuropathy he replied: “There is life after peripheral neuropathy and COVID-19. The fear of the unknown is almost as debilitating at the disease itself. Answers bring peace of mind”.
For your own answers to questions on peripheral neuropathy, check the FPN website at www.foundationforpn.org or email [email protected]
To read how mindfulness can help the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, read here.