WYSO

Unstoppable: A Teenager With Narcolepsy Keeps Moving

Oct 11, 2018

Dayton Youth Radio student Lauren Redfern is always moving. As a matter of fact, it's hard to count all the teams she's been on, but then she came across a hurdle.

Hi my name is Lauren Redfern, and I break records. When I was 12, my dad and I competed in a 340 mile canoe race on the Missouri River.

We spent over two straight days together while competing in the canoe race. With our finish, I became the youngest to ever paddle and successfully complete the MR340. We finished 18th out of 340 boats. Most kids would never think to paddle that long, especially with one of their parents. 

Not only do I paddle, but I run as well. My freshman year, I was the only freshman on the varsity team.  In addition to running on trails, I also run on the court.  My sophomore year, my basketball team went 26-1, with our only loss coming 3 games short of state. During my junior season, I was a part of the first-ever school sponsored lacrosse team at Bellbrook.

While I have enjoyed running, paddling, playing basketball and lacrosse, I now am conquering a new challenge.

During track freshman year, instead of breaking records, I was being lapped. As I ran the 2 mile, I would lose feeling in my legs. Then I would lose hearing, and my vision would tunnel. I would no longer hear my coaches or be able to tell how fast, or even how slow I was going. I would finish my race and immediately fall asleep, not pass out, but immediately go into REM sleep,

One phone call changed my life, and that came from a St. Louis University sleep doctor when he called my Mom to tell her the results of my sleep study. While I was not with my mom when she received that phone call, I imagine she had a sense of relief in knowing why I was struggling for the last 3 months, but also a sense of fear as she was now a parent of a child with Narcolepsy and Catalepsy, a disorder that is very uncommon and misunderstood.

This diagnosis came right before track season my freshman year. I had no idea what was lying ahead. Anger was definitely apart of my reaction. I was Lauren Redfern, the runner, the basketball player. Now I was the girl who falls asleep during halftime and after races.

Quiting or throwing in the towel is not apart of my family history. I am still an athlete. I still run, I still play basketball, I still stop flying balls on the Lacrosse field, and I still paddle down the river with my dad.

I now wear a bracelet on my left wrist that indicates how to wake me up if I have a sleep attack. Some days I see the school nurse more than my friends.However, I still feed my hunger for competition with sports.

But I now compete with this new disorder everyday. As I'm graduating from Bellbrook High School, I will be playing on the first ever Girls Lacrosse team at Marietta College, and will major in athletic training. No matter what comes my way, when it comes to being a competitor and giving my all, I am unstoppable!

Lauren Redfern is a student at Bellbrook High School. Special thanks to Katie Bills-Tenney. Learn more at the school's website: https://www.sugarcreek.k12.oh.us/Domain/40 Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.