‘Debilitating condition meant I crashed into a digger at 40mph and nearly killed myself’

A farmer from Kilkenny has spoken out about how he struck a digger at 40mph and nearly killed himself, after his ability to drive failed him due to a condition called narcolepsy.

Larry Lyng was diagnosed in 2001 with the condition that causes, among other symptoms, excessive daytime sleeping, sleep paralysis and cataplexy (the loss of muscle tone triggered from an emotion such as laughing).

Speaking to Philip Boucher-Hayes on RTE One’s Liveline recently, the Kilkenny farmer said narcolepsy and cataplexy have changed his life and his independence is gone.

Larry told of how, previous to being diagnosed, he used to constantly fall asleep and that he could pull up at traffic lights and while waiting for the light to go green his head could drop and he would fall asleep. He also said that he suffered very bad falls, before he was diagnosed.

He also spoke of how sleep paralysis, as a result of narcolepsy, affects his life that when it happens he is aware of everything going on around him yet he is totally paralysed.

“I’m a hardy bloke, nothing would frighten me … think of your worst nightmare that is what [sleep paralysis] is,” he said.

Now retired from farming and the contracting business he ran with his sons, Larry said how he had “a lot of crashes before he realised [that he had narcolepsy] and wrote-off the finest of cars and jeeps” due to the condition.

With his ability to drive now gone, he told listeners to the show that in the last crash he had he struck a parked digger at 40mph, after his head dropped, nearly killing himself.

He also said how people don’t know enough about narcolepsy; that once at the ploughing championships his heart rate and blood pressure were up due to the condition and people thought he had a heart problem but he had to tell them it was just narcolepsy.

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