Most of us know Graeme Sinclair as a cheerful larrikin who loves to fish. That he is indeed, but there is so much more to him. I recently had a chat to him about multiple sclerosis, with which he was diagnosed in the late 90’s. After we talked, he gave me a copy of his book, Life On Wheels, to have a look at.
It is always so interesting to see how people deal with what life throws at them. Graeme is an energetic, positive, kind hearted human. When I read about his early days, I was amazed – talk about making the best of things! He has taken a pretty tough start to life, along with the diagnosis of a potentially devastating disease, and turned it into a life of adventure. Anyone who views their life from the ‘glass half empty’ perspective would do well to read Life On Wheels.
His attitude to M.S. is bold and positive – and he would like to see the attitude towards treatment and management of the condition change.
“We should say to newly-diagnosed patients that it’s a severe challenge, and we’re going to have to work together,” he says. He understands there are several courses M.S. can take, but he for one always refused to believe in the course of the disease was going to limit him.
“If I’d believed what I was first told, I’d be tired, depressed, out of work, broke and in a chair,” he says. “Well, only one of those things is true – and I’m working on that one too!”
Since his diagnosis, he has made 19 more series of his show Gone Fishin,’ met and fallen in love with his wonderful wife Sandee and is father to James and Amelia. “I’m actually happy with what this disease gave me,” he says. “I’d always been incredibly driven – I’ve learned to be easier on myself. It’s life changing but not all bad. I’ve had to address some lifestyle factors. But, surround yourself with positive people, show people how to help you, and display enthusiasm for life, and there is a chance to reverse the effects deemed irreversible.
Insurance brokers, ironically, have introduced Graeme to two of his most successful paths of treatment. The first introduced him to Matt Tizard, who has been instrumental in keeping Graeme healthy for some years, and the second put him in contact with NeuroPhysics Therapy, which he has been practicing for the past year at the Energy N Motion centre in Grey Lynn, Auckland.
Since completing the intensive programme and continuing to build on the results he achieved there with regular practice, Graeme has “sensation right down to my feet, more movement, more strength, more control, better balance and accruing positivity.”
“I want to get more mobility back,” he says. “It’s going to take discipline, but I want to make use of what I have achieved so far and go further.” He urges people to reframe their M.S. diagnosis – there are absolutely steps you can take to help yourself – “grab them and embrace them,’ he says.
The fact that Graeme is currently in a wheelchair has barely slowed him down at all. His energy is infectious and he is constantly looking for the fun and good in life and people. He still travels the length of the country filming and fishing, accompanied by his son James, who is his P.A. ‘Pack Animal,’ lending a hand with driving, mobility and other tasks. They are clearly great mates with a shared love of the outdoors.
“Fiordland is medicinal spot,” he says. “It’s just so awe-inspiring.”
Life On Wheels is great adventure story, but it’s Graeme’s honesty and attitude that takes it from being a good story to an inspiring one.