Octover 7th, 2002
By RICH SHOPES
Gary Begin's bad days aren't like most people's.
They creep up and leave him so whipped he can hardly budge his 6-foot frame from bed. Stress wipes him out.
His bad days started in mid-1996 when working as a disk jockey at then-Oldies 106. He was slurring his words and the station manager wondered whether he was drunk.
Begin laughs at the recollection, but talks somberly about the headaches, the tingling in his hands and feet, the forgetfulness and rundown feeling he was getting.
"I knew something was wrong," he said.
Doctors were mystified, then an MRI confirmed Begin, then 35, had multiple sclerosis.
Medication helped tremendously, he says, as did another change. He switched careers to commercial photography.
"Stress is one of the worst things for MS, and being on air can be pretty stressful," Begin said. "I had to find something that if you feel bad, you can still do. I always loved photography. I just never thought about it as a career move."
Until 1997. He enrolled in an photography program at Pinellas Technical Education Centers in St. Petersburg.
He apprenticed for a while, then ventured out on his own. The move offered flexibility and a chance to earn more money.
He moved from Bradenton to Englewood, where he worked for three years, tapping the seasonal tourist market, but returned to take advantage of the area's growth in year-round residents.
He free-lances for area magazines and modeling agencies, but prefers beach portraits. They're the highest paying, at $200 to $500, and most flexible to arrange. One thing he loathes: weddings. They're too stressful and last all day.
"The last one I had was two years ago. (Afterward) I couldn't get out
of bed for four days. It wiped me out," he said.
© Sarasota Herald-Tribune