On the 10th February I will be giving a presentation at the Olsen Hotel in Melbourne. Over the years I have given many presentations, speeches, impromptu talks. Formal. Informal. But this one is different. This one is personal. Very personal.
To be honest, I think it is all a part of the journey that I have been on. I have been asked many times to talk about “what actually happened…” Well the time has come to tell the story. On the 10th February 2017, I will talk about my altered behaviour during the AFL season of 2013. Many of my friends and colleagues dismissed my mood swings and forgetfulness as a consequence of a separation and subsequent divorce. Initially I was diagnosed with depression and eventually admitted to hospital for appropriate care. The only problem was, I didn’t have depression. Eventually, and somewhat through luck, the cause of my strange behaviour was found to be a rare autoimmune disease – Limbic Encephalitis. This is a disease that attacks the brain. I had a number of seizures and these left me with several lesions on my brain. The consequence of these was a loss of memory – some 5 years initially and a significant loss of smell and taste due to one of the scars being very near to my olfactory area of my brain. I also had heightened emotions – and was prone to cry quite easily.
The initial prognosis was not good. I cannot remember even being in hospital – but my family certainly do. They were told that I may have as little as 3 months. As this came and went, they were told that I would need hospital care for the rest of my life. Then – that I would need supervised care…and on it went. Well, now I am pleased to say that I am back at work doing all of the things I love doing. Fully independent. Back to whatever normal really is.
In fact, in many ways my life is better now than it was before I went “dancing with gaga”. And this is what I want to talk about on the night of the 10th February. I believe that I overcame this autoimmune disease mainly through the love and support of the people that truly matter in my life. It was also due to my application of the beliefs I had espoused as a coach for many years – Consistency. No Compromise. No Doubt. (CNN). I treated myself in the third person – as if I was the patient of an Exercise Physiologist. I addressed the three cornerstones of physical level; mental application and spiritual wellbeing and then applied my formula of C.N.N. to each one these.
It has been a fair journey over the past 2 years or so. But I have grown enormously as a person. I feel I can relate to people whom have mental issues such as Alzheimers and dementia. In a way – I have visited that place!. I understand what it is like to lose your identity and how important it is to be recognised for who you are not what you do. I have an empathy for those coming to retirement and looking for meaning in their day to day life. I understand what it feels like to be unfit and unhealthy and how you have to fight to get back.
I learned these things through the many people I have coached, mentored and worked with over a career of more than 30 years. The importance of goals. The need for clear focus and almost blind faith. The essential support of people around me and their belief in me as an individual.
I used music as a part of my rehab. One song that I listened to – and still do – was by the Piano Guys. It is called “Okay”. There is a very poignant line in this song that goes “..no matter what you’ve been through, here you are. No matter if you think you’re falling apart. It’s going to be OK!”
Well, I do have some apprehensions about the 10th February. I know that it will be a tough gig. It is the vulnerability of it I guess. But I also know that when I come to the end of the presentation, I will be talking about the future. All its promise. All of its potential. All of its excitement. And, I really do know, that it’s going to be OK!