A dad who was one of the youngest people in the UK to be diagnosed withParkinson’s has told how getting three quarters of his body covered in tattoos has helped him live with the crippling disease.
Shaun Slicker was only 20-years-old when he first began to experience his first symptoms.
But it was not until three years later that doctors eventually told him that he had the devastating condition.
Shaun, now 30, said: “It started with a tremor in my left foot. I used to play rugby and thought it was a trapped nerve and I was finding it hard to walk.
“My podiatrist referred me to a neurologist and after years of being passed from pillar to post I was eventually diagnosed in 2009.
“At first, it was a relief because it could have been something much worse. It wasn’t a death sentence for me and I knew it was something I could live with.”
The father-of-three has a family history of the condition so knew what to expect,reports Manchester Evening News.
And in 2011, his sister Kirstie was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s aged 29.
Shaun, who is father to Casey, seven, Leland, six, and Kenadee, five, said: “I’m doing better now than I thought I would be when I was first diagnosed.
“When I first went to Parkinson’s meetings I was surrounded by elderly people and I thought ‘Is this what I’ve got to look forward to?’
“But Parkinson’s has changed me for the better.
“It’s made me grow up a lot more.”
And Shaun, of Shaw, Oldham , has found his own way to come to terms and cope with his condition – with the help of tattoos.
He suffers from mobility problems and the side-effects of the strong drugs he takes for the illness, but Shaun says the one thing that makes him feel better is a new tattoo.
His body is now 75 per cent covered and he uses his inks to raise awareness of the condition.
He has been featured in an American tattoo magazine and used his tattoos to raise funds for various Parkinson’s charities over the past 10 years.
Shaun said: “I wasn’t on medication for 18 months and couldn’t walk.
"The tattoos cheered me up and got me out of that depression. Most of my body is covered now and they gave me peace of mind.
“I finally went back on medication for my well-being and had to have months of physio to learn to walk again.
“Now I’m putting my tattoos to good use for raising money and awareness of the disease,” he said.