Di­ag­no­sis changes life out West


When Wayne Cot­ton’s speech started to slur he searched his symp­toms on­line and hoped he didn’t have a mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease (MND).

The Auck­land man was dev­as­tated when the doc­tor gave him that very di­ag­no­sis six years ago.

‘‘You’re ba­si­cally told you are go­ing to die,’’ the Te Atatu¯ Peninsula res­i­dent said.

‘‘All they can tell you is the av­er­age per­son lives three years.’’

Cot­ton was 44-years-old when he found out he was one of 300 peo­ple liv­ing with MND in New Zealand.

He found out two years ago that his MND was pri­mary lat­eral sclero­sis (PLS), a milder ver­sion of amy­otrophic lat­eral sclero­sis.

This meant his dis­ease pro­gressed slower than av­er­age and al­lowed him more time.

PLS was a type of MND that caused mus­cle nerve cells to break down, caus­ing weak­ness.

Cot­ton’s dis­ease af­fected his speech and abil­ity to walk.

‘‘Nor­mally when it starts off in the voice like mine, it’s a bad thing. I’m a lit­tle bit lucky I guess.’’

Cot­ton said it was hard for him to ac­cept his di­ag­no­sis.

It took him, his wife and two daugh­ters about two years to get their heads around it.

‘‘Six years ago I was rid­ing a bike, play­ing golf, do­ing your nor­mal thing. Six years later I’m like this.’’

Cot­ton now used an elec­tric wheel­chair to get around.

He said he didn’t care about los­ing the abil­ity to walk as much as los­ing the abil­ity to talk.

‘‘The legs don’t bother me, it’s the voice.’’

Giv­ing up his job was dif­fi­cult.

He had worked for his fam­ily busi­ness sell­ing prod­ucts over the phone – some­thing he could no longer do.

‘‘You’ve ba­si­cally got to to­tally change your life­style.’’

But he was still op­ti­mistic and lived as in­de­pen­dently as he could.

‘‘As you go, you learn. You just try to stay ahead of the dis­abil­ity.

‘‘I’ve got wheel­chairs, I can still drive a car.’’ Cot­ton would take part in this year’s Walk 2 D’Feet MND, a walk to raise aware­ness for the dis­ease or­gan­ised by Mo­tor Nuerone Dis­ease As­so­ci­a­tion New Zealand.

Funds raised from the walk would go to­wards the New Zealand MND Registry.

The walk would take place on Novem­ber 12 at Ken Maun­der Park, New Lynn from 10.30am.


Te Atatu¯ Peninsula res­i­dent Wayne Cot­ton was di­ag­nosed with mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease six years ago.

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