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Keeping Positive

By Alan Thomas
July 2006, Llanboidy
A digital story from Capture Wales

Not giving in to Ataxia

Alan has been diagnosed with ataxia, a degenerative disease which affects balance and co-ordination, but he's keeping active and won't let it ruin his life.

"I call the wheelchair I use when ever I am out of the house, my "Loamie".

At the moment I use a stick for very short distances, but "LOAMIE" takes me everywhere else.

Ataxia, is a rare neurological condition. It is degenerative with NO cure. I have been diagnosed with Cerebella Ataxia, which affects the balance and co-ordination, this was discovered when I was about 34, now at 40 my condition is a lot worse, but I feel more active "at heart".

My motto is to keep a positive outlook, and I try and do as much as I can.

Loamie and I have achieved a few things, together, such as: travelling on a train, going on a boat trip, and going to the cinema... and yesterday, lit a match - a simple task I haven't been able to do for ages.

I attend Coleshill Social Centre, Llanelli once a week to study a computer course called CLAIT. And have gained many certificates of progress. The use of a computer has made communicating with people a lot easier and I am an active member of many on-line message boards.

I use a tricycle, to keep as mobile as possible.

I use the train and Taxis, to go to places of interest. Mainly visiting the cinema, in Cardigan.

In January I went abroad for the first time, ever. Went to Lanzarote, with my family - it was brilliant, hoping to go again next year, on my own.

Things that I still have to achieve are going on a bus and going on a plane, but I will overcome these as soon as I can.

I do have bad days but I also have good days. And so much still to do. I am not going to let the illness control my life.

Ataxia ruins nerves, ruins lives, but not mine. Not yet."

Alan Thomas

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Llanboidy, Carmarthenshire - out in the "sticks" - with my girlfriend, Dawn. I am 40, a retired electrician and wheelchair user because of a neurological disorder.

What's your story about?
The story is about being POSITIVE and NOT giving in to a disability. I told this story as this illness I suffer is very rare, and it needs more awareness.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
The workshop was a huge benefit to me. I achieved a great deal in the workshop, both personally and educationally.

Your comments

"I also suffer form cerebella ataxia and also have the same attitude as Alan. Good on you and keep being positive it is the best way to go Alan. And remember there is help out there - www.ataxia.org.uk. Anyone with Ataxia can join as can friends and Family of Ataxia sufferers." Elizabeth Macdonald Stornoway.

"I also have ataxia I was falling over in 1984 and went to london for tests. I have been told I have cerebella. I hope you stay possitive and get to do all that you want. I also use a wheel chair/walker. I like your bike and have often thought about getting one for myself to help me lose the wieght I have put on. Your story is good and I am glad you put it here for me to see." Lynda Little berkshire, UK.

"Alan has shown me that my three year old daughter Jade has a lot to look forward to and achieve in her life to come. Jade has Ataxia and by the time i met Alan, i was full of despair for my daughter. Not anymore. Alan - you are truly an inspiration to me and many others like my daughter. You have shown me that Jade has a wonderful life in front of her and i Can never thank you enough for that." Ceri pepper from s/wales.

"Thanks Alan. It's really great that you share your achievements with the world. I'm sure your example gives great inspiration to people with ataxia, and to disabled people in general. I am constantly amazed at the determination of the Friends (members) of Ataxia UK, not to let ataxia overtake their lives. Thank you for keeping on heeping on!!!" Sue Millman, Chief Executive, Ataxia UK.

"I've been lucky enough to meet Alan several times and if weren't for his support for me and my sailing ambition last year, I think I would have given up. Thanks mate - you are a star." Geoff Holt.

"Made me think of the ordinary/extra-ordinary people who touched my life for one never-to-be-forgotten week in Haverfordwest. Thanks to them and to all the team. Whatever was in those sandwiches, in the college? Never did work that out." Colin Gerlach, Pembrokeshire.

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