Mike Christie: Searching for sea glass and simplicity

Mike sparing with Patty Harrison.

by Mira Reverente

Friendly and upbeat, Mike Christie can easily put strangers and acquaintances at ease with his ready smile and his repertoire of jokes.

He readily talks about his day and what brought him to Neuroboxing Fight Camp at Portside

Ventura Harbor. “A friend told me about these no-contact boxing classes for people with Parkinson’s, back in 2020. I was one of the first students ,” says Mike, 75.

More than three years later, he’s still attending classes five times a week, with one class solely devoted to strength training. The Camarillo resident looks forward to the classes and meeting like-minded people going through the same thing – Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and other neurological conditions.

He adds, “I no longer feel alone. Here I am surrounded by people who are in the same boat as I am and there’s so much support out there.” He even started attending monthly support groups where there is a lot of talking and sharing of coping mechanisms like Tai Chi.

Mike recalls being diagnosed in 2020 although the tremors started ten years prior. The tremors progressively got worse and he eventually sought and received a diagnosis from a neurologist at UCLA.

Pre-Parkinson’s, Mike was inspecting vehicles upon arrival at Port Hueneme, a job he had for 13 years. Prior to that, was managing a cabinet shop in Orange County. He retired at 62 and didn’t think another job was in the cards for him.

This Oregon transplant finds the SoCal coastline equally breathtaking and led to his fondness for collecting sea glass, which he finds immensely relaxing and satisfying in its simplicity. He says, “You walk amidst these rocks and you find these simple, beautiful pieces. You can get lost in the process and not notice that several hours have gone by.”

“It’s an outdoor activity I enjoy doing. I can spend hours or an entire day on a beach by the rock formations, just searching for sea glass,” he says of his decades-long hobby. He likes the local beaches like Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard but also looks forward to the pristine beaches of Maui, which he usually visits once or twice a year.

While he doesn’t do much with sea glass except to collect them for decorative purposes and careful storage, he has on occasion had the more vibrant pieces turned into necklaces and gifted them to close friends and family members.

His PD diagnosis hasn’t stopped him from traveling. Aside from Maui, he has visited Israel and Australia. “I still live life the way I want to and it hasn’t stopped me at all. I’ve gotten used to it that sometimes I no longer notice the tremors,,” says the father of one and grandfather of six. He does practice great care in navigating staircases and curbs, but very simple modifications. He also finds enjoyment in going out to dinner occasionally and not having to whip up home-cooked meals.

His neurologist in Oxnard was trying to convince him to do surgery when he was ready but he decided it wasn’t for him, after much thought. He credits his spirituality and his past stint as a pastor for his current mindset of acceptance and contentment.

When asked what he would tell folks who get a PD diagnosis, Mike put it simply – “If you experience the usual symptoms, try to get an early diagnosis so you have access to more treatment options. Don’t put it off and continue or start exercising to get a handle on it right away.”

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