Six years after immigrating to Perth from the UK with his wife Rosalie, Bob Ramshaw’s life took a turn he wasn’t expecting or wanting.
The 63-year-old grandfather of 14 was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2014 after he noticed his shoulders were getting stiff.
“I was working as a chemical services engineer, so I thought it was from carrying heavy tool bags and 25 litre drums,” Bob said.
“Or just from getting older.”
There were other signs too: he couldn’t applaud at the end of a concert and he was having trouble swinging his arms.
“I did the dangerous thing of asking Dr Google why my writing was shrinking. I found out that Parkinson’s causes micrographia.”
Bob’s GP sent him for a brain scan which thankfully came back clear.
“I saw a neurologist who said there was no test for Parkinson’s, but if medication cleared my symptoms up, it's Parkey’s.”
Sure enough, Bob’s symptoms settled once he started the medication.
“Finding out I had Parkinson’s was a shock, but also a relief. Once you know what something is, you can then deal with it.”
Bob advises those diagnosed with Parkinson’s to find out as much as possible about the condition.
“Do your research to find out what’s happening with your body, so you know what to expect and how to manage your symptoms,” Bob said.
Bob viewed his diagnosis very positively and decided not to let it get him down but two months later, he was made redundant when the organisation he worked for was bought out.
Not one to be deterred however, Bob started his own business and now works as a service technician and handy man. He works according to how he’s feeling.
Sleeping issues and controlling his internal body temperature bother Bob the most these days. They don’t, however, stop him from ‘getting on with it.’
“Everyone’s journey is totally different but the way I look at it, if you think you are going to go down the tubes, you will,” Bob said.
“I’m not going to let it get to me.”
In a television advertisement for one of its lotteries, Bob noticed MSWA supported people with all neurological conditions.
“I gave them a call and was put in touch with an NDIS Relationship Manager who was really helpful in getting me an NDIS plan. It was a confusing process, so it was a huge help to get a personalised plan in place.”
Bob has difficulties with flexibility and bending. MSWA helped Bob access services and support, including the men’s support meetings at MSWA’s Kelmscott Service Centre.
Disappointed he could no longer ride his motorcycle, Bob started painting miniature figurines.
“It’s the perfect thing for people with Parkinson’s to do. It helps your fine motor skills, as well as being relaxing and enjoyable.”
In September, Bob fundraised for MSWA by participating in the Central Park Plunge in which participants abseiled from the Central Park building in Perth.
“I wanted to give back to MSWA as they have been such a help to me.”
“I also want to show people that you can still get on with your life.”
“I don’t hide the fact I have Parkinson’s but I’m the same bloke I was before I was diagnosed. There are just some things I can’t do anymore.”
“I want to keep being a good husband, father and grandfather. I want to work for as long as I can and enjoy my life for as long as possible.”
“I’m going to go down kicking and screaming every inch of the bloody way.”