FY6 0PA 05/07/2008
I was 13 years old when I first developed the symptoms of Muscular Dystrophy, it all started when my parents observed me holding onto my thigh whilst climbing the stairs at home, at this age I had developed high arches on both feet more notably my right foot and was slow at running. Concerned by this my parents arranged for me to see a foot specialist at the ‘Cumberland Infirmary’ in Carlisle, I was advised by a Physio to do some foot exercises to try and flatten the arches. Over a period of time there was no noticeably improvement so back to the hospital we went for more consultation. At this point it was decided the problem was under development of my Achilles tendons and I was referred to a surgeon for an operation. On the day of admittance it was decided at the 11th hour not to operate and I was referred to a Specialist at ‘The Freeman Hospital’ in Newcastle for a second opinion.
The second opinion was to be the crucial part of establishing what was wrong with me! We were advised the problem was with the muscles in my legs and I was promptly referred to a Neurologist at ‘Newcastle General Hospital’. After a number of tests, a muscle biopsy took place and at the age of 16 I was diagnosed with ‘Becker Muscular Dystrophy’.
On leaving school I wanted to be an Electrician and tried to get an apprenticeship, which proved to be difficult in light of my BMD. I was not going to let this get me down and joined Carlisle ITEC (Information Technology Centre) in the summer of 1989 where I was taught Office Work, Computers & Electronics.
In October 1990, my parents bought a ‘Spar Shop’ in Lancashire and I decided it would be a good career move for me & joined the family business; I learnt all aspects of shop work and was enjoying my new life in Lancashire. In 1994 my parents announced things were not working out with the shop and they had decided to sell up, and during the same year bought a bakery in Yorkshire. I followed them across working in the Office and serving in the shop, unfortunately I could not settle and returned to Lancashire in 1995 and moved in with my partner (now wife for the past 11 years)
At this point in my life climbing stairs was proving to be more difficult requiring the use of two banisters, I also found walking long distances to be bit of a struggle. I was falling down intermittently but able to get back on my feet with out any assistance.
I joined the Civil service in Sept 1995 working for ‘The Benefits Agency’ (now DWP) in Blackpool, I have worked in a number of Office departments since joining during which time I have been looked after very well. I get a reserved disabled parking space on site and specialised equipment provided along with a Pension payable straight away if I ever become in a position of being unable to work.
By the age of 24 I found using a clutch in a car to be a struggle so I joined the Motability Scheme in 1997 and got a new car with an automatic gearbox which improved my ability to drive, I’m now on to my 4th car soon and have to say the scheme is an important lifeline for me
I got married in 1997 to Angie who has been very supportive & understanding towards me, in November of the same year we bought our first home which required alterations to help me get around. Through our local Social Services I had a banister fitted to the stairs and steps outside were altered enabling me to enter the house more easily, we even managed to get a grant for Central heating! (I have found help is out there, you just need to ask for it)
In 2001 I had an accident and fell down the stairs at home; fortunately for me I was ok, other than a few bruises. We decided in the interests of my own safety to move to a bungalow which has proved to be a good move.
During the time here I have had a Walk-in-shower installed and am currently awaiting an assessment to have a ramp installed at the back door to replace the steep step.
In recent years my walking ability has declined and I now use a crutch to get around. I find this helps a lot and most people move out the way when they see me coming and even hold the door open for me! Pre-Crutch days people would just stop and stare and mutter ‘look at the way he walks’!
All in all I try and enjoy every day and not to let Becker MD get in the way!