Feeny man shares his battle with Parkinson’s in a bid to inspire others

David and Pauline Murphy from Feeny.
David and Pauline Murphy from Feeny.

A Feeny man who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease two and a half years ago is urging others with the condition not to let it control them.

David Murphy was diagnosed with the neurologocal condition in 2014 when he was 49.

The father-of-three, who is now 51, said when he was told the news he had the degenerative disease it “hit me like a brick wall”.

“Looking back now I can see the signs like the shake in my hand, dropping things, the sway in my walk,” he said. “When you hear the word ‘Parkinson’s’, it’s a big shock.”

Speaking ahead of Parkinson’s Awareness Week, David - who is behind the Facebook page ‘Young Parkinsons’ - said he’s determined not to let the condition define him.

“Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I sit and have a cry and think, ‘why me?’, but I have a great family who keep me going. I have Parkinson’s, but my family have to live with it.

“They get me up and about and out the door,” he said of his wife Pauline, and children, Natasha, Shane and Paul. “I owe them everything.”

Having worked as a joiner for more than 35 years, David said it took him time to come to terms with how his life had changed.

David said his experience has found there isn’t an abundance of support for young people diagnosed with Parkinsin’s Disease. However, he did find Parkinson’s Support NI, a recently established and entirely volunteer-run N.Ireland charity.

David has joined Coleraine’s Dalriada branch and said he’s become a member of the board. Thanks to support from family, friends and the community, David and a committee of local people have raised £12,500 for the organisation. He said all money raised for the charity is used in Northern Ireland.

Almost three years on from his diagnosis, David has spoken of the strength and support he has found from family and friends which, he says, allows him to cope with the condition.

“I used to think it was all about me, that everything centred on me, but now I know that’s not the way to deal with it.

“You have to think about the people around you, your family. You need their support because, without it, you won’t get through,” he said.

David said it’s important for people to educate themselves about the condition as symptoms vary for each person and hopes for a good attendance at a public meeting in Park on April 24th in the community hall at 7pm.

David spoke at Parkinson’s Support NI annual general meeting last year, and will be attending this year’s event on April 29th in at Kelly’s Inn, Omagh. The Feeny man said a fundraiser for the charity has also been arranged at The Sportsman Bar in Feeny - a Ladies Night - on April 28th from 9pm.

David said he keeps himself busy and is involved with his local GAA club, St. Mary’s, Banagher.

“It is a scary time, but don’t sit back and dwell on it. Come out and talk about it,” said David, who added, “Talking is great medication.”