David talks about his gym buddy Jim, 73, who has spinocerebellar ataxia type 6.
Jim was diagnosed with ataxia 4 years ago. Jim and I have been sports buddies for over 30 years. Endurance runs have always been our passion, and he has shared his passion by coaching others with his in-depth knowledge of the sport.
Prior to Jim’s diagnosis, he trained every day at a local sports centre, where he was known to all through his passion for sport and for helping others achieve their potential.
After noticing his balance was intermittently disrupted, Jim sought medical advice; his mother also suffered from ataxia, so the diagnosis didn’t come as a surprise.
Initially, Jim was able to continue using the municipal sports centre but gradually it became apparent this was not going be to a long term option.
Jim is inspirational – before his diagnosis of ataxia he was an incredible athlete and very motivational through his athletic performance; since the diagnosis he has not allowed ataxia to alter his mindset and he is still an incredible inspiration!
A little more background about Jim
Once Jim was diagnosed with ataxia unfortunately it was also discovered he had prostate cancer, the chemotherapy treatment for the cancer was absolutely devastating to Jim’s physical and mental wellbeing, the treatment was brutal, Jim’s ataxia specialist is uncertain if the cancer treatment accelerated the ataxia but Jim very quickly went from using one walking stick to two sticks to a walker to not being able to walk .
A doctor friend and training partner of Jim’s told him that he must try to overcome the ataxia by finding alternative routes within his brain to find a way of achieving his goals.
Unfortunately, Jim’s speech has deteriorated and can be difficult to understand, he has become very conscientious of this!
By maintaining his daily exercise training routine Jim constantly pushes the boundaries of the ataxia in order to manage his control over the diagnosis rather than the diagnosis managing him.