- 55 yrs old
- Diagnosed 49 yrs old
My life as a child was brilliant; great parents, nice place to live and good school and as much sport as I could fit in each day. My dad was a role model and taught me everything – I just wish he was here to share my success and see my lovely family. I somehow scrambled a degree and started my first job as PE teacher in Preston in 1984. My second job was PE teacher in the Bahamas in 1987. The Bahamas experience involved catching a 100lb Marlin, lobster fishing, reducing my golf handicap to 9 and working in a multinational school. Learning how to live life to the full and taking time to chill was part of the culture.
In 1990 I married my wife Paula on a trip back to the Uk, and we are still happily married with two wonderful children.
In 2004 I started my business specialising in my lifetime love – staying healthy and keeping fit – the business has gone from strength to strength and we advise numerous organisations on how to look after their staff wellbeing.
So, a life of health, sport, love and travel.
Then at 4:53 on the 7th Feb 2012 I was dealt a curve ball.
It was after a dog sledding accident when I hurt my shoulder when I was referred to a neurologist with a shoulder problem. I walked into the consultation with a ski jacket on, only to be told as soon as I sat down that “you have Parkinson’s, I can tell how you walk, take these tablets and come back in 6 months”
Five minutes later I was driving down the M6 in the outside lane trying to digest the news and wondering how to tell my family. Then the images of wheelchairs, shaking, illness and disability flooded through my thoughts. For 3 months I wondered what was happening, was it true, why me etc. I was luckily working at Kings hospital at the time and heard about Prof Chaudhuri and Anne Martin. 6 months later a DATscan confirmed it. – I had Young Onset Parkinson’s.
This time it was different. Although I didn’t welcome the news – it felt different. I trusted the people who promised to look after me. For the first time I felt positive and that was enough.
Well its now 6 1/2 years later.
Life is good. I play golf 2-3 times per week, have built a gym in my house and workout daily, walk my dogs, cycle, play squash and chill out. I get my “off days” but find exercise and cuddles do the trick.
In the last 6 years I have travelled to loads of nice places(Hawaii, Orlando, Bahamas, Sweden, Spain et), cherished every moment with the children, looked after my 87 yr old mum and grown the business (fitted around golf).
My decision in managing this condition was:
- Trust the experts
- Keep fit and healthy
- Listen to my body – if tired stop but don’t use the illness as an excuse to be lazy
- If on a low day, talk to someone and get out of the house – do something
- Stay strong and be positive – I can’t control the future – but I can control how I spend my minutes each day
- Tell people – as it’s not embarrassing, as I didn’t ask for it….
- Parkinson’s is individual – therefore talking to others offers no benefit – as that’s not me.
Parkinson’s has made me enjoy life. It’s also given me a stress indicator – I shake more. So I’m one ahead of most people who don’t recognise stress! Nobody knows how you really feel – speech issues and shakes are constant reminders; tiredness and feeling unbalanced are a pain.
My great motivation has been seeing how my two wonderful children have taken this in their stride – Matt the ever present loving, caring son who has made me so proud of everything he has become; Sophie my princess who is studying Law, plays great football and is so focused that I can’t wait to see what she achieves.
And then there’s my mum – unconditional love, witty, strong and a true battler in the face of everything thrown at her. My wife Paula has been my rock, and is still the blue eyed girl I fell in love with.
Looking to the future I’m going to travel, love my family and do the same I’ve done for the last 6.5 years. If my condition worsens then that’s not my problem – it’s one for the experts to solve and get me back on course.
My last thought is a thank you to my family for not treating me any different, to the experts at Kings for being there for me and to my mum for inspiration – there are others worse off than me who manage better than me.
You’re only as good as your next golf shot.
Shaken but not stirred!!
- Watch the masters
- Buy a mustang
- Tour USA in a RV
- See Maldives
- Relocate to live near a beach – wake up to the sound of waves
- Get to 10 handicap
- Walk up Kilimanjaro