David’s determination to raise awareness

David Murphy and his wife, Pauline.

David Murphy and his wife, Pauline.

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A Feeny man diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a year ago is campaigning to raise awareness about the condition and how it can affect younger people.

David Murphy was diagnosed with the neurological condition last September, when he was 49.

The diagnosis hit him hard, as David was self employed in the construction industry, which he had worked in for 35 years.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” said David, recalling the moment he was told he could no longer work.

Looking back, David said all the signs were there.

In 2013, he was experiencing a shake in his right hand. He was told it could be down to being under pressure at work but, in April the next year, his wife, Pauline, noticed the shaking in his hand had become worse.

Tests followed and David saw a consultant who told him he was showing all the signs of the illness. When he was in a shop and received his change, the money “just fell out of my hand”, said David, and he broke down, right there in the middle of the store.

More tests followed and an official diagnosis came in September 2014. The father-of-three was devastated. Due to family commitments, the diagnosis didn’t sink in for David until the New Year. When looking for help for people his age, he said: “There was nothing really out there for people my age.”

David has started a Facebook page - Young Parkinsons - and to date he said the response has overwhelming.

With strong support from his family, including wife Pauline, David has been lucky to receive support from a number of local businessmen who want to help him fundraise. A public awareness meeting will be held in Feeny Community Centre on January 27th at 7.30pm and a charity dance on march 12.

“When you think of Parkinson’s, I think people think of old people who have the condition, but it affects a lot of younng people and they don’t know it. I just want people to be aware of the conditions and its symptoms,” he said.

David said he thinks it is also important for people to educate themselves about the condition as symptoms vary for each person.

“It looks like there’s something tied to my legs, like I’m dragging my legs,” he said. “I was walking down the street one afternoon and a girl said to me, ‘you’re early in the pub today’. I would just ask people not to judge people in that way.”

David added: “I have great family support. My wife, Pauline, is my rock, and my children are great. No two days are the same. Some days it might take me two minutes to get up and out of bed. Other days it might take 20 minutes. Parkinson’s has affected my life, but my family has to live with it too.”