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.