Hey all well here is a little more about me. As you may have already read on the home page, my name is Ben although most of my friends call me Benjy, I blame my cousin for that one as it just seemed to of stuck.
Well here it is. I suppose it is a little bit difficult to dig up memories that I have suppressed for a number of years but hey it plays a rather large part in this trip and let’s face it looking at my life now, I have to say it’s all been worth it. All the crappy parts of my life that I had to deal with are all irrelevant now except in that they built the person I am today.
I was born in Sydney 13 December in a year long ago. I was diagnosed at birth as having Noonan’s syndrome. Why? Because I presented with so many of the features: webbing of the back of the neck; droopy eyelids; low hung and tiny ears with narrowed canals (I can hear you just fine, I just sometimes choose to ignore you); concave sternum; abnormal toes (wait they aren’t that abnormal I still have 10 and they still go in descending order. I suppose my pinkie is slightly curly); arm extension restriction; hole in the heart, and heart murmurs; high palate (still have good taste though). It was also explained to us that physical and mental development ‘may be impaired’!
All these could have contributed to a short life. Some kids do not thrive. Some are deaf, some are mentally challenged. His medical concerns have largely been rectified by surgery. But my potential for short stature was of concern. 4 foot 2 is not a manly size! My life was extremely difficult until, I would say, aged 17 when we moved to Cornwall. I had achieved 5 foot 6 with twice daily injections of growth hormone. This, I felt, was enough, thanks. I had also left school which had been a misery to me and went out into the world. Bullying and torment had been rife from aged 5 at primary school in Australia to Year 9 here in the UK and the feeling of underachievement and failure was have overwhelming. Generally my silent exclusion from peers’ activities was more hurtful than any direct jibes I may have encountered.
My progress at school was difficult and traumatic, compounded with many hospital visits and operations. I wasn't different enough to be classed as disabled, nor was I ordinary enough to be classed as ‘normal’. I fell between two stools, and that is a lonely place to be (yeh and driving around the world on one’s own is never lonely humm a different kind I suppose). Far from having an adverse effect on my personality, so I’ve been told….. wait is that a good thing errr I guess you’ll just have to read a little more about me to find out, the numerous operations and hospital visits, our shifting around the world in search of solutions, my troubled schooldays – all these factors have moulded my personality I feel, thickened my skin, and given me a strong sense of self-worth. At 17 I would get up before dawn to get myself from the South Coast of Cornwall to the North Coast to my Animal Care College, on a 50cc scooter, which would take me over an hour in all weathers, in the dark and wet (a Defender is only one up from that I still get wet when it rains). I sought out jobs for myself, introduced myself to strangers with compunction, pushed myself forward in ways I thought best, and got myself to this point now where my doggedness and ‘obsession’ (if you like) will benefit not only myself in personal achievement, but other families and children with my condition. It was with some disappointment that we realised I was not out of the woods as far as his heart condition was concerned. With age the valves had started to deteriorate and I will need surgery in the future (if I had my way I’d get a billet aluminium one installed with a little more vava voom) . Hence the need to get on the road!
Thank you for taking your time to read this little piece about myself. I couldn't have done it without the help and support of my beloved parents who have been there all the way, as you can imagine I was far too young to remember a lot of this and it has been very hard for all of us digging up these memories.