Despite Olie’s diagnosis being a difficult time, he writes about how he changed his perspective.
Six years ago at 21 years old, I was about to begin an exciting career in the Police Force. However, while completing the medical test, the doctor noticed issues with my balance and senses. In order to investigate this, I attended appointments with neurologists, had brain scans and other tests. Being 21 and generally healthy I assumed this was unnecessary.
Therefore, when I received my results, I did not anticipate to be diagnosed with Friederich’s ataxia; something I had never heard of, and that I would likely use a wheelchair within ten years. The immediate impact was shattering to my family and I. I was unable to complete my Police training; the final stage in the recruitment process for the job I had already been offered, after studying Police Sciences. I quickly lost hope for the future and any plans that I once had.
Then something changed. I started taking things day by day and tried to stop worrying about the future. It’s a hand I have been given but it’s not what defines me. I realised I had two options, to feel sorry for myself and have others feel sorry for me, or to set goals on what I can achieve and work towards it. Ataxia still makes me feel upset and angry when I think about it too much, but day-to-day I focus on what I can do and what makes me happy.
It has given me a mature outlook on life and has helped to establish present and future goals. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a supportive family and I won’t let it take over my life. I can still achieve both personal and professional goals even if I must alter these slightly.
Six years on from my diagnosis, my life is very positive and I am proud of what I have achieved – even if things haven’t worked out as I expected! I own my home and have worked hard to qualify as a Financial Advisor. Most importantly I now have my own family; my wife Amy and two wonderful children; Louie has just turned two and Penny is five months. Right now my condition is progressing slowly and, although the future is daunting, I am grateful to be well and living a very happy life.