“We live a quiet life,” says Philip Langlands of himself and his two dogs Ziggy and Vonnie.
“We enjoy our own company. I don’t like big parties. I’m cautious still.”
Philip has felt cautious in public since 2015, when he began experiencing problems with his balance. He recalls wobbling and falling over on his daily commute to Gloucester Park, where he worked in accounts. Tests revealed a neurological condition, the exact nature of which is still under investigation.
“Suddenly, I had to retire aged 51,” explains Philip. “It was a huge shock.”
Philip was born and raised in New South Wales and, when he left school, he found himself torn between joining the seminary or joining the army.
So, he flipped a coin. It came up heads, and he joined an army field force unit for four years. In 1988 he took up a place at the University of NSW, studying a double degree in economics, eventually qualifying as an accountant.
In 1999 at the age of 35, Philip moved to Golden Bay to help care for his pop, and a new life in WA began.
Philip reflects that, after the diagnosis five years ago, he turned to alcohol for about a year. “I wanted to numb the pain. But heavy drinking caused me to have more falls. So, with the help of friends, I gave it up.”
These days, he lives a quieter life, explaining, “Instead of going out on a Friday night, my friend Raymond and I buy DVDs as soon as they hit the shelves. I have a big screen to watch them on, so it’s like being at the cinema.” Philip particularly enjoys musicals, like Mary Poppins Returns and Hairspray. He is also a fan of romantic dramas. “Virgin River on Stan is a must-watch,” he says.
He continues to live in Golden Bay and is happy to call it home. “I’ve got everything I need here. I’ll be here for life,” says Philip. “I know all the neighbours, and it’s a house with no steps and no carpets, so I can whizz around in my wheelchair.”
The house has been further modified thanks to Philip’s NDIS plan which he accesses through MSWA.
“In 2018, MSWA took me under their wing,” says Philip, who receives physiotherapy, care support and attends Rockingham Outreach.
“I have a path in the backyard to make it accessible for my gopher and wheelchair. I sleep in the lounge room on a couch that works like a hospital bed. I have rails and a commode set up in the bathroom so that I can have access from my wheelchair. All of this has been provided through my NDIS plan and was organised by my brilliant MSWA Occupational Therapist, Nabaa, and Support Coordinator, Ben.
“I’m also very thankful to my gardener, ‘The Garden Guy’. I’ve recommended him to everyone at Outreach and he does a lot of MSWA Clients now. Ben from MSWA came to my house and showed me how to self-manage my gardening services through MyGov. Now, I get an invoice from the gardener, and the NDIS money appears the next day, which I send on to him.”
Philip’s MSWA point-of-contact is his Customer Liaison Coordinator, Irene. And his Support Worker, Sarah, helps with cleaning and drives him to his medical and physiotherapy appointments.
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The neurological symptoms that affect him most are fatigue, heat intolerance and imbalance. “I’m now permanently in a wheelchair because it’s not as far to fall! I was sick of ending up in hospital for broken ribs, a broken shoulder and a hip replacement,” he explains.
Currently, his condition is stable, and he puts that down to the work he has put in at physiotherapy.
“The physios have done wonders.” “They push me on. On Wednesdays at Rockingham MSWA, it’s boys’ day – two hours of full-on physio, for me and three other fellas. We call ourselves ‘The Four Musketeers’! Some of us need massaging, some focus on upper body strength. I use the parallel bars to work on my balance. I also like the stationary bike, boxing, basketball, tennis and volleyball. Having been in the army, I’m pretty competitive! But we also cheer each other on. If someone does well, we’re always shouting out encouragement.”
After their weekly physio, Philip and ‘the Musketeers’ go next door to the Outreach group, where they swap stories, play board games, and stay for lunch.
“I’ve travelled around the world, but now I’ve got everything I need here,” he says. “The only time I go out is to go to MSWA on Wednesdays, but I’m loving life.”
Philip says in earnest, “Without MSWA and the NDIS support, I don’t know where I would be. I thank them for changing my life.”
If you'd like to find out more about how MSWA can help people living with a neurological condition, call us on 1300 097 989 or fill in the form below.