Parkinson’s patient to kayak 300km down River Shannon – ‘You see the world in a different light’

A Parkinson’s patient who aims to kayak the River Shannon from source to sea this summer says his diagnosis is ‘a challenge’ but not an insurmountable one.

Dublin man Frank Mullen will kayak more than 33km down Ireland’s longest river from Dowra to Tarbert to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s this June and July.

He plans to spend 10 days completing the trip.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Mr Mullen said he was diagnosed early last year after noticing some changes in his body.

“The shaky hand was one of them, the fact that I couldn’t sleep properly because I had restless legs and not having any energy,” he said.

“I think that was probably the most trying thing of all, the fact that there were things I needed to do but I couldn’t get the energy up to get them done”.

Paddle4Parkinsons Image: Paddle4Parkinsons

Mr Mullen said he is getting treatment and managing the impact on his life.

“In work, I’m lucky I have a job that doesn’t need me to be in the office very often so I can work from home,” he said.

A lot of the work I do, I can do in my own time.

“But if I put in a big morning then I’ll have to go to bed by 4pm in the afternoon because I’m just so tired”.

Frank Mullen Frank Mullen. Image: Paddle4Parkinsons

Mr Mullen said he has always been a fan of kayaking.

“I like kayaking; I got involved in it with my two boys who are in the Scouts here,” he said.

“One of the activities there is kayaking.

“I’m one of those parents who thinks, ‘If this organisation is looking after my children and they need volunteers then I’m probably one of the better volunteers’ in my opinion.

“If you’re out kayaking around the cliffs, you just see the whole world in a different light from a boat that has your face basically two feet off the water”.

‘Staying fit and healthy’

Mr Mullen said the kayaking should be fine for him as long as it’s planned correctly.

“It’s a combination of medication and staying fit and healthy,” he said.

“Staying fit and healthy is a real big part of dealing with Parkinson’s, just as it is with dealing with everyday life I suppose”.

Mr Mullen said he wants to raise awareness and fundraise at the same time.

“If you have Parkinson’s, it’s a challenge but it’s not an insurmountable challenge,” he added.

People can donate to Mr Mullen’s Paddle4Parkinsons fund here

Main image: Frank Mullen. Image: Instagram/paddle4parkinsons

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