I was born in 1963 under the growing shadow of Tolworth Tower as it reached its completion in the leafy suburbs of Surbiton (Surrey, UK). That’s not to say that I remember the event: it just gives me an anchor on my timeline!
I grew up to be a southerner (Tenterden in Kent) – at least, I think I grew up? I’m not even sure at the age of 52 whether that actually occurred. Even from a young age I liked the idea of becoming an ‘academic’ (whatever that means). This was despite the protestations from my father who suggested, on seeing my A level results, that I might be better suited to a career in metal bashing. Not deterred, I went on to pursue studies in the Built Environment. I was taking a rather leisurely approach to the academic career ladder when events shook me into action. Standing in front of over 100 students in the lecture theatre I was overcome by dizziness, a sense of vertigo and ringing in the years. But I made it to the end of the lecture thinking that this would pass. Little did I know that this was the start of my multiple sclerosis journey. It took another five years before I knew what the problem was (courtesy of Internet searching) and another five years before the medical profession was convinced of my own self-diagnosis.
When you know something is wrong and you’re painted into a corner, you desperately try to redress the situation. For me, it meant getting real about a career progression that would enable me to have some security should I have to retire through ill health. Eventually, by a process of ‘fake it until you make it’ I became a university professor. Unfortunately, having reached these dizzy heights (excuse the pun) I was unable to continue in this role. I retired in 2009 at the age of 47.
Despite being described as relapsing/remitting sometimes it’s hard to see where the remitting occurred. I am a wheelchair user, both outside and in the house. However, I do try to stay positive and am currently receiving Tysabri, which involves a monthly visit to the hospital.
I am lucky enough to have a fantastic family. This includes my immediate family (wife and three sons), as well as brothers and sisters who give me all the support I need. Where would I be without them? Now, I live in Prestwich in Manchester, so I am busy becoming a true Northerner!