I’m a scientist, engineer and entrepreneur. My career began as a high achieving research leader and teacher working in the UK University sector, as well as in a US government laboratory. My scientific interests are multi-disciplinary, integrating theory, computation, experiments and industrial applications.
When I was in my mid-thirties, I was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease. It was 2009. This eventually resulted in my academic career being cut short - the high pressure nature of the job was simply not compatible with the way stress impacts on PD. I resigned in 2013. Determined to keep active and to feel successful for my own mental health, I created a start-up company providing scientific consultancy services to industry. This venture allowed me to work from home and to schedule activity around the symptom cycles of the disease. So even several year after diagnosis, I have kept my head above water financially and have remained independent.
During the early years of growing my business, I became an expert in digital media, specializing in LinkedIn in particular. I began to morph the company into a digital business consultancy, as this further suited working around PD while remaining financially secure. I use my high level technical background to help business make optimal use of social media and websites.
Despite the distractions of work, coping with my Parkinson’s became more and more of a daily battle, especially when the drugs started to cause dyskinesia. PD was slowly eating me away inside. I lost hope and started to sink into darkness. Fortunately, l was brought back to life when, in late 2015, a referral for counselling/psychotherapy was offered by my Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist. The story of my experience with counselling and PD can be found here.
During this time, I met and became friends with Deb Helfrich via LinkedIn. As we became closer, we decided to set up a joint venture business, pooling our disparate but complimentary expertise and experience. When Deb found out that I had Parkinson’s (we have never physically met as she lives 4500 miles away) her keen interest in wellness and health matters was piqued. We began to talk about different approaches to health rather than relying on the drug-centric and dogmatic approaches of western medicine alone. Having had my heart and mind opened thanks to the psychotherapy, I was finally ready to listen to common sense and started to consider the arguments Deb offered me. I began taking responsibility for my own well-being.
On January 5th 2016, we decided to throw all of our combined skills and strengths at trying to “Out-Think” my Parkinson’s Disease. We started by simply ignoring everything we had been told, instead doing our own research, starting from a blank canvas. More about how and why we started Out-Thinking Parkinson’s is related in the About Us section. Uniquely, and perhaps astutely, we made the key decision on day one that we would keep a Video Diary of our journey and document it every step of the way. We had faith that we could make progress - and knew that we needed to record it to prevent any nay-saying.
On February 15th 2016, we launched this website to share what we were achieving. As well as the video diary, we included deeper insights we had gained into the emotional aspects of living with the disease via a series of articles.
During the first several months of Out-Thinking Parkinson’s, the video diary shows how far we’ve come. Not only have we demonstrated dramatic reversals to my symptoms, but also shown how our original thinking and ideas can improve quality of life: as Deb told me at the start, wellness can indeed be achieved through simple quality of life interventions, which anyone can try at home. The website is going strong. We are currently creating a series of magazine style themed Digests, simply because the sheer amount of information in this blog and articles we have published elsewhere has become somewhat overwhelming. By collecting these into themes we hope our research will remain accessible to new and old readers alike.
Our multi-disciplinary research into the condition now runs very deep and broad, and we have accrued significant expertise when it comes to Parkinson’s.
In the next phase, we have decided to see how far I can slowly reduce my Parkinson’s medication, with the ambitious aim of living with the disease drug free. While we are absolutely not advising anyone else to attempt this at all, ever, our reasoning is that my dyskinesia has become worse than the disease symptoms themselves and I am also personally fearful of other side effects that long term use of some drugs for PD may cause. We will continue to document this next leg of our journey through the video diary
I am still active at the forefront of digital media and available to provide business support services covering social media, blogs and web design. I am especially keen to help other entrepreneurs who either have Parkinson's themselves or are growing businesses which support people affected by the disease. I'm also very keen to work with therapists of all sorts. I would like to help design improved sessions or classes through incorporation of what we have already learned and developed.
I am also interested in supporting PhD/early stage Parkinson’s researchers by providing online tutorials about the science we have uncovered as well as, importantly, insights into the human or "insider" contexts of their research.
I would also like to broaden the reach of the work and therefore would be very interested in contributing or syndicating articles for magazines and other publications.