HUDSON, TX (KTRE) - Walking up the stairs is an everyday task several people don't even think twice about, but for Stephen Shoemake, it's a miracle.
"Up until I was 31 years old, I walked backwards everywhere," said Shoemake. "It was just easier."
Shoemake was 11-years-old when he first noticed something was wrong, after spraining his ankle and noticing it didn't heal properly. He was constantly in a tremendous amount of pain.
"It was kind of like having a Charlie Horse from the top of your head to the back of your feet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365
At the age of 14, he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.
"They were telling me at 18 I'd be in a wheelchair, 30 dead," Shoemake explained. "My mind said no way, not going to happen. I'm going to continue living my life on my terms."
It was that strength and determination that got Shoemake past the bullying by high school classmates and on through his 20s, where he worked in finance, became a minister, met his wife and started his family.
"I continued working, building my life, doing what I wanted to do," Shoemake explained. "Like I said, I didn't let anything get in my way. I didn't stop. Life is too short and I wasn't ready to simply let it go."
Surviving past the age of 30, Shoemake found out there was a study being conducted on people with muscular dystrophy. When he arrived at the doctor's office, he got the surprise of his life. He was misdiagnosed.
"I asked them if I don't have muscular dystrophy, then what did I have and they told me I had a muscular disorder called Dystonia," said Shoemake.
Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that occurs when the brain can't properly send a signal to a body part. 15 years ago, Shoemake underwent treatment, having a very special device placed in his head.
"They put the DBS in, then pulsed it, and it stuns that part of the brain and the tremors go away," Shoemake explained.
After three successful surgeries, Shoemake is moving around just fine and being able to do things he wasn't able to in the past.
"I can help a neighbor who's moving in who I don't even know, just grabbing whatever and bringing it up," Shoemake explained. I help people with financial services. I'm a minister and I help people spiritually as well. I just love to help people. I didn't have a lot of help when I needed it most, so to be able to help others now makes me so happy."
Shoemake's friends and neighbors are amazed at how he was able to make it through such a difficult journey and how he strives to help others in need.
"There has been times when he has had issues with the device," Shoemake's friend Nick Reynolds. "I've seen him walk backwards and he's just going to meet a client or going to help somebody out. He's just going out and pushing through any kind of pain, any kind of issues, and it's an inspiration to me."
For those suffering from Dystonia, or any set back at all, Shoemake advises them to take each day, one step at a time.
"Keep fighting," Shoemake urged. "That's what I've done all my life. It's not always easy and you're going to have some hard days. You're going to have days when you're going to want to throw in the towel, but don't."