David Older was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at only 19 years of age – despite no recorded history of the disease in his family. Now 35 years old, David works out 2 to 3 times a week at the Stour Centre under the supervision and support of the Trust’s Exercise on Referral team.
David first believed something was wrong when he noticed the onset of blurred vision and loss of balance back whilst working for London Transport as a Software mapping specialist back in 1997. He was initially referred by his GP to Moorfields eye hospital in London but by chance was seen by a consultant who was also a specialist in MS, and referred immediately to the MS department at St Thomas’ hospital.
Within 76 hours David was hospitalised and put on a course of steroids – both of which would continue for the next two years. After two years of intermittent recovery and relapse, and having suffered two strokes, David was finally able to return home. He was put on an ongoing course of the then new wonder drug Interferon, which eventually managed to help him stop the disease’s progression and stabilise his condition.
By fortunate coincidence, in 2007 David was dropping his daughter off at a toddler Tumbletime session at the Julie Rose Stadium when he heard of the Trust’s Exercise on Referral team – at that time headed up by John Deeble. John’s in depth knowledge of appropriate exercises, and the Stadium’s specialist gym equipment, impressed David who got himself referred by his GP onto the Exercise on Referral programme back in 2007.
Looking back David believes that exercising regularly under John’s supervision - initially for up to thirty minutes a session (and often up to 5 times a week!) - was key to keeping any progression of the disease at bay. However a couple of years ago David’s father died and he fell out of his regular exercise regime – and as a result saw progression of the disease.
David did however manage to get himself back to a regular exercise pattern, and with the team’s help was able to work up to exercising 3-4 times a week again (often for up to 3 hours a session!) and very quickly saw his condition stabilise again. A situation recognised and very much supported by his support nurse Maureen Speed. David himself is all too aware of the downward spiral if he is forced to stop exercising regularly; beginning with what he refers to as “flicky foot” a pre-cursor to more dramatic loss of mobility in his legs, being confined to a wheelchair and subsequent body weight increase, more extensive muscle wastage and, he firmly believes – faster disease progression.
Being able to workout under the expert eye of the Trust’s Exercise on Referral team and the teams of nurses and consultant’s that help him control his condition, has meant that David has been able to live a fully involved family life - including sharing in all the normal physical activities associated with bringing up a young daughter. He’s also set up his own web design and IT support business building and maintaining PC’s– Frost Media.
That said David is all too aware that MS can come and go at any time, and he has already fought off one onset of secondary progression - the next stage in the disease’s typical progression. He puts this down firmly to the drug interferon and his exercise regime, though we suspect his positive mental attitude also has much to do with it too.
David and his family remain full of hope and optimism for the future, looking forward in particular to his 8 year old daughter, Lana, joining the Trust’s Active Kidz gym based sessions – something she is extremely keen to try!