Beryl Park is the co-ordinator for the Newcastle Support Group. Beryl has a recessive episodic type of ataxia and is 68 years old, she’s been having ataxic symptoms since 1989.
Here she shares a difficult story that she won’t ever forget, about a time when she tried to help, but ended up hurt.
“Several years ago, I went to warn my neighbour, who had children, that there were some dogs roaming around freely. My neighbour’s mother was looking after the children and we had never met before.
When I tried to explain about the dogs, she pulled the children away from me, as if I was endangering them myself. I must have been slurring my words and assumptions were clearly made about me.
The dogs indeed came through the hedge and attacked my deaf cat who was sleeping in the garden. I had to have my cat put to sleep due to injuries.
If I hadn’t warned my neighbours about the dogs, their children could have been hurt, too. Yet, I was the one who ended up hurt from the unkind assumptions made by me neighbour, due to my ataxia.”
Living with a rare condition is challenging enough, despite being told you’re drunk when you’re not. The ID card can turn a situation like Beryl’s around. It will explain what ataxia is and inform others that you may seem disordered, but you are not drunk.