At the end of December 2017 I lost my dad at the age of 57. He had a condition called cryoglobulinemia. This condition is a form of vasculitis caused by abnormal proteins in the blood called cryoglobulins. At low temperatures, these proteins cause the blood to thicken and can also cause blockages. This leads to reduced blood flow which can cause skin blotches, pain and fatigue as well as damage to nerves, tissues and organs.
My dad was a strong, hard working and thoughtful person who worked for Leeds City Council for 40 years as a pest controller. He took pride in his job and everything he did. He took early retirement at 56 so he could relax, go fishing and do the things he loved. Sadly, just before he took retirement, he began having symptoms of cryoglobulinemia and ended up spending most of his time in hospital. Our family never fully understood this condition, it is not easy to explain or deal with. My dad was never one to moan about his problems and most people didn’t know he had this rare condition. He continued to act and do things as if he was healthy and well, he never let the disease beat him and always stayed positive. Cryoglobulinemia is unforgiving and can turn a simple cough or cold into a life threatening situation. My dad spent most of the time in and out of hospital fighting this condition but never gave up and always came out on top.
In the middle of December in 2017, he went back to hospital with signs of a cold which kept him in for two days but was then sent home. The day after, he was straight back in with pneumonia; he was up and down for days fighting every single second, trying to beat the infection. On 21 December, it finally beat him and I can honestly say I have never felt the pain of seeing someone so strong get beaten by something I knew hardly anything about.
I can’t explain the loss I feel and I wouldn’t like the thought of anyone else feeling so helpless and at a loss of knowing what to do with a disease that is so unexplainable and unknown.
Because of this, myself and a very close family friend have decided to take on the challenge of kayaking from Liverpool to Leeds to raise money and awareness for rare diseases on behalf of Rare Disease UK. This is going to be the first of many challenges I will take on for rare diseases.
My dad wasn’t just a father, he was my best friend, mentor, a guide and my hero and I hope I am as strong as he was. He will be missed, but I hope doing these challenges in memory of him will help him live on.
Daryl is 29 and a roofer, for which his dad supported him to do. He loves sports and played football for a few teams along the years with his dad supporting him all the way. He is a fan of Leeds Rhinos and tattoos.
You can support Daryl on his kayaking challenge here.