In 2012 I was quite suddenly paralysed from the waist down, whisked into A&E and placed in intensive care. I didn't know it at the time but, out of the blue, I had contracted a rare viral condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an auto-immune disease that affects the peripheral nervous system. Neither did I know then that, by a great stroke of fortune, the doctor who admitted me had seen this rare illness before and gave instructions for me to treated with anti-bodies. If that hadn't happened I have no idea what the outcome might have been. I never saw that amazing doctor again, was never able to thank him, and don't even know his name.
Through the miracles of medicine and the NHS my legs were restored in a little over a week, and I was walking again, albeit a bit unsteadily. I thought life was back to normal, but a few weeks later my legs started to go again, and I was diagnosed with an even rarer chronic variant called CIDP. In my case it means the messages stop getting through to my legs about every four and a half weeks. Then I go into hospital for three days and antibodies from the blood of 800 donors literally give me legs for another month. It's humbling.
Years later, in 2016, when I decided to set sail on Marlin's Mission - sailing 340 to The Southampton Boat Show - to demonstrate that cost is no barrier to getting afloat, I also embarked on another journey: to raise money for the charity that funds research into this rare illness and supports sufferers and families.
The truth is that if I hadn't become ill I would never have set off on what became one of the richest experiences of my life, as friends rallied round and I found support and inspiring stories everywhere I sailed. Strange to say, but I call it my "blessing," for every four weeks or so I get a reminder of how lucky I am. These days, raising money for GAIN, helping to raise awareness, and sharing my experiences are a driving force in everything I do.
If you'd like to support this charity you can donate at www.justgiving.com/Dave-Selby-Marlins-Mission
THANK YOU, DAVE SELBY