I was born in Lithgow in 1952, which is still a beautiful coal mining and prominent city on the western end of the Blue Mountains. I come a family of seven children and I am one of two males and third eldest. I enjoyed typical country activities such as bush walking, trout fishing, rabbit trapping and blackberry picking, as well as playing cricket on the road outside our premises and playing tennis with friends, between residences and using the side timber fence as the ‘net’. I enjoyed playing in local sporting competitions such as cricket, rugby league, cricket and hockey. I continued playing hockey for over thirty five years in both local district winter and summer competitions, and veterans competitions once I attained the special age of forty years, and this included annual State competition carnivals held across New South Wales. I also enjoyed playing golf, bush walking, and of all things, playing double squash games which was a little dangerous and a ball in the back or the behind was not unusual.
I married Wendy in 1974 and we have four wonderful daughters and three grand children to date. Namoi and Bronwyn have completed various Australian Voluntary Aid programs in South Korea, China and Bronwyn is currently in Tonga and is expecting to return to Korea late 2010. Megan has a terrific son Liam and they reside with us. Rachel has two daughters, Maddison and Luka, and lives nearby at Warrimoo.
Not too long ago, I imagined I would remain in good health and would not experience any health deficits in older years. I expected I would be playing hockey in the Over 60 State Competitions. However, in 2000, I experienced tension and numbing in the lower legs and the overall diagnosis was HSP. I also noticed a significant change in my physical skills, especially playing hockey, in that I could still sprint and tackle the much younger players, but I had physical restrictions in closer play. I stopped playing hockey in 2004. Of course, I have experienced a gradual decline in my physical skills and I have a significant limp and use a walking stick to ensure an upright position.
Mind you, I am still very active in domestic and gardening activities. Pushing a lawn mower is a relatively simply task. I have a particular interest in native plants and the front yard is in fact, a native garden. In the backyard, there is a native rainforest in one area, and orange and mandarin trees scattered in other areas. I also enjoy maintaining herb and vegetable gardens, and also maintaining a variety of poultry who are allowed daily free range.
I also enjoy cooking and in particular, music. I have a reasonable collection of vinyl records and an increasing collection of cds. I enjoy traditional rock-n-roll, but focus particularly on traditional blues, folk and roots music. I have my favourite musical venues in Sydney and the Blue Mountains.
In terms of the HSP condition, I guess for a long period of time, I maintained a denial stage in accepting the condition. I was provided with additional information on the condition over the years, and it seems I always had some of the presenting conditions such as the rapid knee reflexes, retracted toes and later, hearing loss, tinnitus and dry skin. I have worn hearing aids since 2001. Historically, I am the only identified family member with the condition. I did participate in the Stem Cell Research Program conducted through Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards.
I have attended a variety of physiotherapy services and I must admit, I have not maintained a consistency with exercises. However, this year I completed exercises through, of all things, the Aged Care Support and Physiotherapy Unit at Nepean Hospital. I have since moved to a local gym and I have a specific program focusing on upper and lower body exercises. I plan to attend the gym on at least three occasions a week, but work and motivation can sometimes affect my attendance.
I have previously run the City2Surf on six occasions and whilst it is a difficult start with the number of participants and the necessity to have strong dodging and weaving skills, the end result it quite rewarding.
I am looking forward to walking the event this year and I just hope Campbell Parade does not affect my finish. I hope there is a light or two left on at the finish line.
I am Chris’s eldest sibling. My own family have watched Chris struggle with this debilitating illness and admire his strength of will and determination. His efforts at walking the City to Surf twice and persevering until the end, and fundraising for HSP research, are inspirational. I love him very much and to us he is a hero.