Young golfer finds exercise helps him with his symptoms
Keen local amateur golfer, Ronan Coyle, first noticed Parkinson’s symptoms at 24 but was only diagnosed six years later at the age of 30.
Far from putting him off the game, Ronan, now 37, has found playing golf helps him overcome his symptoms. He is now using the game as a fundraiser for the first “Par for Parkinson’s” event taking place at the City of Derry Golf Club on Sunday 15 September
The civil servant’s story shows how difficult it was to get neurologists to consider that he could have Parkinson’s at such a young age.
“I visited two neurologists in my mid to late 20s and both of them said there was nothing wrong with me, just a bit of a tremor,” said Ronan.
“So when the third neurologist I saw said I had Parkinson’s, while it wasn’t the news I wanted to hear, it was something of a relief to know what was wrong with me.
“Like many people, initially I didn’t know much about the condition and I didn’t want to either. I didn’t want to google it, talk about it or do any research in case I found out something horrible.
“However, once I understood there was a lot more to it than shaking, and specifically that exercising regularly helps with the condition, my attitude changed. That is why it is vital that people living with the condition get information and support from Parkinson’s UK.
“I joined a gym and ago three or four times a week; I play squash several times a month; I even go to yoga and try to swim even though I’m a terrible swimmer! I have tried tai chi and play a bit of football. My wife also made the mistake of buying me a bike for my birthday a few months ago and now I am out on it all the time too!
“However, I’ve been playing golf almost since I was a toddler and that was always my first love. I have been a single-figure handicapper but am finding it harder to maintain since I got married!
“I want people to know it is not all gloom and doom. You learn to appreciate the simple things and you find ways to adapt.
“I am also hoping the event will help with my volunteering for the charity as I am discussing ways in which I can help newly diagnosed people with Parkinson’s along with the charity’s support team.”
With the recent success of the Open Championship, also held in July, the combination of golf and fundraising for Parkinson’s UK is now firmly entrenched as a north coast tradition!