Monday, November 26, 2018

Case Study #56 - Tim Mastering 5 Pin Bowling

Prep Sketch
Tim Golumbia is a 55-year-old social worker. He was diagnosed with NF1 at about the age of 12. His was a mutation as there had been no NF history in his family. He had cafĂ© au lait spots and a few growths but nothing significant. He started puberty at the age of 7 and had an early growth spurt resulting in his being taller and hairier than his peers. This resulted in significant teasing and bullying. The ill treatment from his peers intensified due the added burden of a speech impediment and a learning disability. Tim’s coordination and balance were very poor so he did not perform well in sport-related activities in gym class. Tim was shy about changing for gym or going without a shirt not because of the NF tumours but because he was teased about his appearance. School was difficult academically and socially because of his social awkwardness, lisp in his speech and clumsiness.

Tim has had 6 or 7 procedures to remove tumours on his skin. The ones removed were mostly to determine what they were and if they should be a concern. Tim has a growth in a finger on his right hand that has been trimmed twice, the last time when he was 15. Since that time, it has grown back again but he has decided that since it is not in the way or causing problems, he will leave it be. In around 2005 he had some small growths on his neck removed as they were being irritated by his shirt collars. Tim is not bothered by the presence of his tumours and does not feel it is necessary to remove them unless they are causing pain or other problems. He wears them with pride and welcomes questions and queries from strangers about what they are. An acquaintance once asked him why he never had a large tumour on his temple removed and Tim asked why the person why it should be removed. It is a part of who he is and it does not bother him.

Tim did not meet any other peers who had NF until around his 40th birthday. He attended a symposium in Vancouver and it was an eye awakening experience. He sat at a table with a number of parents of young children who inundated him with questions about his experiences and for thoughts of what they may expect to experience as parents. He also felt comfortable yet uncomfortable around other people who had NF. It was a strange experience to see others with bumps. But the level of comfort grew quickly but also gave time an understanding of how others may feel and react when they meet him. Not long after this first symposium, Tim was contacted by the executive director of the British Columbia Neurofibromatosis Foundation (now known as the Tumour Foundation of British Columbia) about becoming a board member. They had felt Tim’s positive energy and thought he would be a great addition to the board. Within months Tim was on the board and acting as treasurer. Shortly after that the President had to step down and Tim stepped into the position. He was awarded the BCNF Paul Ralfs Volunteer of the Year award for 2012 by the board of directors. Tim resigned from the BCNF board in 2015 but became vice president of the Alberta Tumour Foundation in 2016.

Tim’s learning disability affected his schooling. His intelligence was higher than normal but he performance was low. He tried attending a university but did not get past the first year due to his low marks… a few years later he tried again and succeeded. The difference the second time was
that he had a computer that allowed him to get his thoughts down in an organized manner. He also had a new passion to become a social worker. He graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work. He used that degree to enter the field of Child Protection, or Child Welfare Services. He has been employed continually since 1993 in this field.

In 2010 Tim was working one day in Nanaimo British Columbia when he was asked to assist a child services office in Edmonton Alberta. Tim was asked to interview children staying with family in Nanaimo to assist with an investigation in Edmonton. During the initial phone call, he mentioned he talked about his bumps as a way of breaking ice with children… and mentioned they were called Neurofibromatosis…. The Edmonton worker replied that she had a co-worker with NF and then asked Tim if he was single. She referred to herself as cupid and the interrogation began. 2 days later Tim was talking to Gail. It became a daily one-hour phone call for the first month at which point Tim sent Gail flowers, and Gail then booked a trip to Nanaimo to meet Tim 2 months later. The courtship continued with each visiting the other’s home twice a year. Tim Proposed in April 2012 and Gail said yes! Tim moved to Edmonton in June 2013, they were married in August 2014 and they continue to live a wonderful life together today.

Tim enjoys golfing, 5-pin bowling and walking their dogs. Tim continues to work in Children’s services and plans to retire in early 2021.

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