Eight years ago Eddie and I had tickets to go and see a few games at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. From memory we had a ticket for the Argentina group game, the French group game and the final itself.

In the end, I was diagnosed just as the tournament began and we only went to one match, the game against the French in Paris. I have blogged a couple of times on that weekend because, undoubtedly, the extremes of emotion I went through over those three days in September 2007 have never been surpassed. It was awful, fantastic, desperate and magic. Magic? Because he was there for me in my darkest moments.

Although it has largely been unsaid between us, the events of eight years ago has made this Rugby World Cup particularly special. And, to be fair, we have kicked the arse out of it. We were in the Olympic Stadium to see Ireland beat Italy. We were in a bar in Belfast to watch Ireland brush off the French. Two weekends ago, another weekend of extremes of emotion, we were in Cardiff to watch the All Blacks destroy France and, the next day, Argentina roll over our beloved Ireland.

Eddie, like many of my pals, had a wake up call when I was diagnosed. He says, with the best of intentions, that my diagnosis was the best thing that happened to him. I know what he means.

Some people who have been involved with walks etc, were primarily involved to show support for me and the charity. To make a difference to other people’s lives.

And some people went beyond that and used it to also make a difference to their lives.

That is a great thing for me for two reasons. The first is it makes me feel better about having Parkinson’s and will do so for many years. And the second, the so much more important second, is these people, like Eddie, take little persuading to get involved in the next round of happenings.

For me, the wake up call of my diagnosis doesn’t make me do stuff I don’t want to. What it has done is make my initial reaction to any opportunity to be YES, and has made me think twice about saying NO. What I have learned is if you start off with the initial reaction of NO to an opportunity, you get bogged down in all the reasons not to take the opportunity.

Eddie’s starting position is always YES and on certain occasions it is out of his mouth before you have finished the question.  “Edward, Can I get you another Guin.. ” “YES”.

Friends like Eddie have tipped the balance these last eight years. From me suffering with Parkinson’s to Parkinson’s suffering from me.

Tomorrow, Parkinson’s will suffer again. We head to Twickenham. To the Rugby World Cup Final.

Cheers Ed.

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