TV star Amanda Keller has opened up about a private battle her husband has been dealing with for the past six years, which has changed their lives forever.
The 61-year-old detailed husband Harley Oliver’s journey with Parkinson’s disease for the first time on the new episode of Double A Chattery podcast, saying while the couple would have preferred to have kept the whole thing to themselves, they believe now is the right time to speak out.
Amanda said she felt something was going on when Harley’s ‘footfall around the house changed’.
“I know Harley so well, and how protective he is of his inner core, he was absolutely scared and in denial, and who would blame him,” she said.
The former Living Room star went on to say that the pair were left ‘completely numb’ after doctors confirmed the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease - a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves, including movement, speech and balance.
“Two days later, I went with our eldest son Liam to an open day at Sydney University – he was in Year 11 – and I fought tears all day just looking at these people at the beginning of their journey, and I was so envious.
“I had such a flashback to when that was me. And I thought, ‘Their journey is just starting.’ And something had just closed off for me. I don’t necessarily feel that now and Harley would hate me even or saying that but that’s how it felt in those early days.”
Amanda fought back tears and she remembers the early days where she was nearly getting ‘cross’ with Harley as their lives changed, telling him to ‘stand up straight’ and asking him to ‘talk in a louder voice’.
“All the things that it does, I thought, ‘why isn’t he fighting it?’ And of course I’ve come to see he can’t control this, and neither can I, and that’s been a big lesson for me. So I’ve become kinder, and sadder,” she said.
“Me trying not to feel like I have to control it. Because it’ll kill me. And he doesn’t want that.”
Amanda said she gets hard on herself if she ever becomes ‘angry’ with Harley for taking too long to put his shoes on or do everyday tasks.
“I hate myself for getting frustrated,” she said, admitting that she does ‘miss the ease of life’.
Amanda then choked up as she said: “We talk a lot about long-term relationships, and how popular culture celebrates the beginning and the end. But the meat of life, the joy of life, the sadness of life, the true human condition, lies in the middle doesn’t it?”
The star went on to say that the couple’s two sons, Liam, 22 and Jack, 20 are ‘fiercely defensive’ of Harley and it has made them stronger as a family.
“I hope that this answers people’s questions about what’s going on,” Amanda said.
“People are shocked at the changes, and I can’t make that better for anybody.”
Amanda said the couple now don’t have any big future life plans and instead of traveling abroad they’ve bought a holiday home on the NSW South Coast.
“I’ve recalibrated what I think happiness is, I think,” she said.
Harley later appeared on the podcast to talk about how he deals with the condition, saying: “The only way to describe it is that I feel worse than yesterday but better than tomorrow.”
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