The following story is written by Peter’s daughter, Sally.
My dad Peter Nolan was born in 1940 to a hard-working, impoverished family in Wythenshawe, Manchester. As a young man, he worked hard, becoming a nuclear construction engineer and volunteering overseas – first in Kenya teaching English and later returning to Ethiopia as a civil engineer.
He married my mum and had four children with her, before moving to be with my now step-mum, Wendy, and her three children in 1985. Eventually, my dad left the nuclear industry to re-train as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic but he never quite achieved the fame he sought. When he was 70, he went on a six-month solo trip to India which he loved – whilst there he started writing a book called his ‘Adventure before Dementia’.
When he was 74 and still working on various projects such as the odd acting job and directing at his local theatre group, dad began to suffer from mobility issues. Walking was becoming more difficult and he began needing the support of a wall behind him if standing. He developed an extreme tiredness, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Dad was losing weight and unable to remember family and friends, however, the GP continued to diagnose his symptoms as those of a stroke. As a nurse, I found this frustrating as hemiplegia is usually left or right sided and this didn’t fit at all with what my dad was experiencing.
My dad was admitted to the hospital after a neurologist who had seen him previously was shocked at the progression of his symptoms and immediately admitted him. By this point, he was unable to speak. Despite this, we could see that he was trying to smile, to communicate to us that everything was fine – I’m so glad that he knew we were there. Dad had a lumbar puncture and we received the diagnosis of CJD two days before he died on 21st February 2015. I am still coming to terms with what happened but am grateful for the opportunity to tell my story.
The CJD Support Network would like to thank Sally for sharing her family’s story. If you would like to share your experiences in our newsletter, please do get in touch. If you would benefit from further support, we are here for you at [email protected] and on 0800 774 7317.