Cy­clist with rare ill­ness mo­ti­vated back into sad­dle

Rare Dis­ease Day: Man fol­lowed TV fit­ness guru

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY JAMES WYLLIE

A 65-year-old cy­cling en­thu­si­ast whose ul­tra-rare dis­ease paused his ped­alling for three decades says a ly­cra-clad celebrity is to thank for get­ting him back in the sad­dle.

Af­ter spend­ing Christ­mas 1980 in hos­pi­tal with an un­known ail­ment, Richard Ge­lati was ready for a change. For the pre­vi­ous three years he had been bat­tling a mys­te­ri­ous ill­ness.

Ini­tially doc­tors thought it was a bug but it wors­ened rapidly with mul­ti­ple in­ci­dents of paral­y­sis and “kalei­do­scope-like” vi­sion, forc­ing him to give up his life­long pas­sion for cy­cling.

The fol­low­ing year, con­cerned that his lack of mo­bil­ity could make him un­em­ploy­able, Mr Ge­lati moved his fam­ily from Kent to the north-east of Scot­land and be­gan his own en­gi­neer­ing firm.

But by 1988 his en­tire body was al­most com­pletely paral­ysed.

“For sev­eral weeks I could only com­mu­ni­cate by blink­ing my re­main­ing good eye,” Mr Ge­lati said.

“One blink for yes and two for no.” Soon af­ter, he was di­ag­nosed with chronic in­flam­ma­tory de­myeli­nat­ing polyradicu­loneu­ropa­thy – where the body at­tacks its own nerve end­ings. In 1993 he was given a ven­ti­la­tor to help him sleep, and by chance hap­pened upon a cat­a­lyst to help him re­gain the strength lost from his hos­pi­tal vis­its.

“One morn­ing, while at the break­fast table, a fel­low in a bright neon leo­tard came on TV called Mr Mo­ti­va­tor,” he said. “I fol­lowed his ex­er­cises re­li­giously each morn­ing and be­fore too long I no­ticed an im­prove­ment.

“I found some­one who could make a cus­tom made, adapted bi­cy­cle, and with this new tri­cy­cle, I re­sumed cy­cling again af­ter 30 years out of the sad­dle.” Mr Ge­lati has now clocked up over 5,000 miles, with the added bonus of rais­ing thou­sands of pounds for char­ity.

He said: “Every day is a chal­lenge when you have a rare con­di­tion and although there are prej­u­dices out there, your life can be a whole lot eas­ier and ful­fill­ing it you ac­cept the help and kind­ness when it is of­fered, and with the sup­port of your fam­ily you can achieve a great deal.”

To­day is Rare Dis­ease Day, de­signed to raise aware­ness of un­com­mon con­di­tions among the pub­lic and pol­icy mak­ers.

“With sup­port of your fam­ily you can achieve a great deal”

MO­BILE: Richard Ge­lati has clocked up over 5,000 miles on his tri­cyle

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