49-year-old professional quizzer Paul has opened up about how he struggled to come to terms with the devastating news that he had Parkinson’s.
Speaking to iNews, he said: "I had been suffering from a frozen shoulder since September 2017. I'd seen a specialist who was convinced he could cure it, but nothing seemed to work."
After searching his symptoms on the internet and suspecting it could be Parkinson’s, the quizzer had his fears confirmed in a doctor's appointment on May 30, and was forced to miss both the World Quizzing Championships and the Edinburgh Fringe festival because of his MRI scans.
He said: "I normally write my Edinburgh Fringe show in June and July and I realised I couldn't do that with so many other things going on.
"I've always had well-received shows at the Fringe and I didn't want Parkinson's to be the reason I had a bad one."
With the pressure of his diagnosis and concerns about how it could impact his career, Paul admits he had a "breakdown" over what to do next.
He explained: "Looking back to those two weeks after the diagnosis I think I had a breakdown."
But he is determined not to let his diagnosis stop him from living his life. Asked what his plan is for the future, he said: "To go on living my life. I'm a stand-up and as long as my brain is fine I can continue to do that.
"I spoke to Sky sports presenter Dave Clark, who has Parkinson's, and he says always have something to plan for. I've just bought tickets for the Pet Shop Boys, who are playing The O2 next May on my 50th birthday."
Paul’s shock diagnosis
We’re devastated that the 49-year-old professional quizzer has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the degenerative condition which affects the central nervous system and diminishes motor skills. The shock news came on May 30 and he admits it was a "devastating" moment.
In a blog post, he shared: "On the evening of Thursday May 30th, an experienced consultant neurologist calmly informed me that I had Parkinson’s disease. It was a devastating denouement to a medical odyssey that began in September 2017 with a sudden-onset, frozen right shoulder, and took in an unexpected diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, a lifestyle transformation that enabled me to lose two stone, and a shoulder operation in January this year.”
"Nonetheless my reaction was not one of shock. I spent May this year in New Zealand simultaneously having the comedy month of my life, and worrying about why a right-sided limp was now getting worse. Behind the facade of the cheerful, late night comedy festival drunk was a man deeply scared about facing the truth when back in the UK."
Paul - who has been the fourth chaser since 2011 - admits it has "been a really, really tough two weeks" since he got the diagnosis but now he has a treatment plan in place he feels "prepared for the new challenges ahead".
The TV personality also intends to continue to appear on ITV quiz show The Chase. In his post, he continued: "It has been a really, really tough two weeks. Cancelling my run at the Edinburgh Fringe, missing the World Quizzing Championships to have brain scans, performing club sets whilst emotionally bewildered, and of course working my way through my loved ones, delivering the bad news.
"With the diagnosis now confirmed, and a treatment plan in place, I now feel far more prepared for the new challenges ahead.
"I have an amazing family, no strangers to serious medical illness, I’m blessed to have a fiancé who is there for me, and I have a multitude of friends and colleagues whom I consider to be exceptional human beings.
"I don’t consider myself unlucky, and whatever the next stage of my life holds for me, many others have it far worse.
"In the time since my Parkinson’s started I have been ludicrously busy, and fully intend to keep Chasing, keep writing and performing comedy, keep quizzing and keep being hopeless at Tasks.
"Dancing on Ice is, I suspect, out of the question. A lot of people have asked 'What can I do to help?' The answer is to treat me exactly the same as before. Much love, Paul."
Our hearts go out to Paul and his family at this tough time. Have you ever been affected by Parkinson’s? Let us know over on our Facebook page