Introducing our new Peer Mentors
We are excited to introduce two new Peer Mentors: Tim Mathwig and Brad Gillepsie
My name is Tim Mathwig. I am 45 years old and currently live in Dallas, TX. I have been married for 17 years and I have a son and 2 stepchildren – who are all adults now.
I was diagnosed with AMN and Addison’s Disease when I was 18 years old. My whole family was tested when my cousin was diagnosed after he was hospitalized for a football injury. For over a decade following my diagnosis, I remained healthy and symptom-free. I did start taking hydrocortisone right away for Addison’s. I started experiencing all the usual AMN symptoms around age 30. Now, I walk with a cane full time and use a scooter around the house and a wheelchair for longer distances in public.
Growing up I loved the outdoors and playing sports. I enjoyed fishing and hunting of all kinds. When I was in my early 20’s I fell in love with playing golf. I’ve had to give up almost all of these.
I now have a new purpose and passion to become an advocate for our community and do everything I can to be useful and to help others through mentoring and to continue using my own body for research through clinical trials.
Bradley Gillespie, Old. Diagnosed with Adrenomyeloneuropathy in 1996.
Things were similar then, but with at least 1 distinction: no internet. So, I was forced to find out about all of the bad things that go with AMN the old-fashioned way. I was a slave to the Index Medicus and the ratty bound medical journals of the FDA library in Rockville, MD. This approach took a bit of effort and patience to realize that I was doomed. Now it is there for the taking on Wikipedia.
So, what to do with all of this damning information at our fingertips? It is not misinformation, it is all true, but not all of it happens to everyone, all of the time. How do we cope with bizarre AMN-related changes to our manhood? These are the sort of difficult questions that we all consider when faced with an AMN diagnosis. It was my choice to go through the rough part of my trip- figuring out what it all meant to me, alone. I do not recommend that approach. I have decided that for many people, especially those freshly diagnosed, the only way to repatriate those comfortable, familiar normal feelings is through a better understanding of what they are experiencing.
This disease cannot be taken lightly, we all know that it kills, Nonetheless, I have markedly improved my attitude since those early, darker days. I am now convinced that there is a lot more good out there than some might guess based on the crazy things that this disease does to our body and to our dignity.
Yes, I am handicapped, I cannot walk. Nonetheless, I have found adaptations to many of my shortcomings, allowing me to live a life that is mostly acceptable for me. It is not perfect, nothing is, but it works well most of the time.
If I can help just one person normalize their personal AMN voyage, I am going to call that a win. That is my motivation to become an AMN peer mentor.