Steven Shackel has been called a polymath. Perhaps he is.
Steven was born in, England in 1951. He claims that he cannot remember his childhood because he does recall feeling that something was terribly wrong and he definitely didn’t belong there! His mother died when he was 10 so he grew up fast and learned to cook and look after himself and his younger brother. His scholastic abilities finally became apparent in High School and he won several national and regional scholastic awards plus a significant award for community service. He was already undertaking university entrance examinations at 14 when his family emigrated to Australia.
Arriving mid-term in Australia and informed he would have to re-sit examinations he had already passed, he quit school in a fit of teenage pique and took the first step on his return to the UK. Completing a 2 year broadcasting diploma in 6 months he was immediately employed by a major radio station. After winning a State karate championship at 16 he ultimately studied several other martial arts. He travelled extensively, even trekking overland from the UK back to Australia, meeting the wonderful people in countries now criminally designated “The Axis of Evil”.
For years he worked in factories, building sites, sewers, a large zoo, an animal care facility, broadcasting, publishing, advertising, graphic design, sustainable building design, illustrating, commissioned painting and lecturing. When possible, a consultant to Local, State and Federal Governments, he is also an accomplished musician, writer, editor and a gifted teacher and public speaker.
Halley’s comet passed overhead as he lay flat recovering from severe spinal and brain injuries. Rehabilitation took a year. In 1994 investigations into complications from those injuries finally revealed he also had ALS/MND. Assured that he had two to five years to live, he promptly devoted himself to seeking a cure for himself and others. He was already housebound and required a wheelchair when he published the world’s first ALS/MND dedicated website.
For a decade he conducted a clinical study to discover if combined antioxidants, lifestyle and dietary changes, mental attitude and complementary medicine could slow the neurodegenerative process. As his own “lab rat” he tried anything claimed to cure or slow neurodegeneration. With a goal to help other PALS he often suffered extremely unpleasant side effects in order to share his findings with them. He continued even after improving significantly by adhering to the regimen he devised for himself and others. Other than weakness on the left side of his body resulting from ALS/MND, for over 15 years he has been mobile and living as normally as his preexisting injuries allow.
After 17 years of reading every available research paper and article on ALS/MND and publishing his own articles, he was nominated for an honorary doctorate for his contributions to the understanding of neurodegenerative illnesses. Sadly, untimely “university politics” interrupted this process. He continued to lecture and assisted doctors, health workers, PALS, CALS and their families regarding ALS/MND. As a health care and disability advocate his work has resulted in laws and regulations being changed throughout Australia.
His ALS/MND writings have been translated into several languages, published in numerous articles, websites and six books (one winning an American Excellence Award). Theories and ideas he published over a decade ago are “generally accepted” (but not credited) in many current scientific articles.
He lives with his wife, Vicki, in a home he designed and built himself beside a river in Goulburn, Australia. He routinely rescues and rehabilitates birds and animals and catches and relocates some of the world’s most venomous snakes.
Does all this make him a polymath?
He laughs, “Shame I can’t be windswept and interesting instead”.
Steven remains a committed disability, health-care and ALS/MND advocate and has been inspired and convinced by Dr Craig to adapt his website as a book.