Dan Pettitt is 29 and has Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). Here, Dan shares with us a time he was accused of being drunk and how an Ataxia UK ID card could have prevented feelings of frustration and embarrassment.
“The last time I can remember this happening was when I was about 20, still trying to get about on my feet. I’d been to a pub in the city centre with friends and I had one or two drinks (I wasn’t drunk at all). We were walking back to the station down a slight hill. My walking was pretty wobbly and a group of similarly aged lads started shouting and laughing at me.
‘He’s p*ssed’, ‘go home mate’…
The accusations made me feel a mixture of emotions: angry, embarrassed and frustrated. I wasn’t able to explain my condition to them and I was frustrated about my walking anyway.
I was with some close friends who knew about ataxia and they were also angry. Let’s just say things got heated between the two groups.
At the time I didn’t have an ID card, and I didn’t know a lot about Ataxia UK then either. An ID card explaining ataxia would be very useful for those in the early stages, who are still on their feet but becoming more unstable. The situation I have just described may not be completely avoidable, although there are some that it could definitely help. There was a fair few occasions where I was thrown out of clubs and bars as they thought I was drunk. A card would’ve made it so much easier to explain my condition to security and prevent us from feeling embarrassed, frustrated and discriminated against.”
Dan is not alone in facing these accusations. It’s time to get ataxia out there to as many people as possible. You can help by sharing your own story or sharing this story across your social media.