Posted - December 2020 in Community Members
I was born in New Zealand where I grew up in a large family. My wife, son and I moved to Australia when I was 28 years old and we settled in the Blue Mountains where we have lived for the past 46 years.
I was a Primary school teacher, which I loved but at about age 47, others noticed that I had a gait problem. At age 56, my walk was bad enough to prompt me to see my family doctor. Tests revealed that I didn’t have Multiple Sclerosis or Motor Neurone Disease but an x-ray revealed I had a protruding disc that was compressing my spinal cord. Maybe this was the cause! This was fixed with surgery but my walking problem was still there. The neurologist did further tests and concluded that I had HSP.
Over time, the effects of HSP have slowly worsened. It has seriously affected my mobility, and now in 2020, it is having a much greater effect on my life. In 2014 I acquired the first of my many walkers, which I still use indoors and for very short trips when away from home. By 2016 the walker was not sufficient and I bought a small electric scooter that could be taken in the car for shopping (Bunnings, Westfields and clubs have benefited!) and long walks with my wife. If you’re brave enough to trust it to baggage handlers, it can be taken on planes. I also obtained a larger scooter for getting about my block. This has been a huge boost to my ability to continue gardening and DIY projects. My most recent purchase has been a new folding scooter that is loaded into my car with a customised electric hoist.
My mobility has been reduced considerably and I can stand and walk unaided now for only a few meters. Other health issues such as a croaky voice and bladder urgency and frequency may be HSP related. These days I need to have an annual medical check to retain my driver’s licence.
So life is far more difficult than it used to be, but I am pleased that I’m now retired, have been able to modify my home, can enjoy swimming and handicrafts, and I am able (usually) to maintain a positive attitude.