My name is Michele Cunningham and I belong to the Eltham Centre. I noticed a problem with my balance about 6 years ago and initially thought it was age related. However, when it became more pronounced I sought medical help. It was difficult to describe; some doctors said it was vertigo although I constantly said that I felt disoriented not dizzy. It was most apparent in large shopping malls.
Finally, in late 2013 I was diagnosed with a disorder called Cerebella Ataxia with Neuropathy and Vestibular Areflexia Syndrome (CANVAS.) I threw my walking stick into the cupboard (but not into the bin because I was told I would need it as the disease progresses) and took up Tai Chi and Qigong. That was 3½ years ago and fortunately I’m only just starting to use the stick on bad days.
The disease is progressing and I can now only manage Levels 1 and 2 but I practice Qigong every day. My neurologist and physiotherapist are quite amazed at how much this is helping me, both physically and mentally. I try to walk as much as possible and no longer worry what people may think as I stagger along the footpath!
Michele Cunningham – Eltham Centre