Den­nis re­veals his strug­gle with MND

For­mer Perth man (83) tells of lead up to di­ag­no­sis

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Ross Gar­diner

A for­mer Perth man has opened up about his bat­tle with Mo­tor Neu­rone Dis­ease (MND).

Den­nis Dick MBE (83), was di­ag­nosed with the ter­mi­nal mus­cle-wast­ing dis­ease in Novem­ber 2017.

The one-time chair of Tay­side Bio­di­ver­sity Part­ner­ship ex­plained: “At the age of 83, when some­one tells you have a pro­gres­sive de­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease which could make you in­creas­ingly im­mo­bile over the next few months or years, and that you will prob­a­bly die sooner rather than later of breath­ing prob­lems, your re­ac­tion is to ask what has changed.

“At 83, many of my friends and as­so­ciates have died off or are in­ca­pac­i­tated, so weak­ness and death are al­ready daily facts of life.

“My first symp­toms came nearly a year ago in the spring of 2017. I be­gan to find my speech was be­com­ing slurred.

“It sounded as though I had been drink­ing too much. Per­haps peo­ple thought that I had a drink prob­lem!

“Then my mouth be­gan fre­quently fill­ing with more saliva than I could cope with. I was on oc­ca­sion drib­bling from my mouth.

“But worse was to come as I be­gan to strug­gle to speak clearly. This was quite a blow as I had spent much of my ac­tive life speak­ing in pub­lic and chair­ing meet­ings.”

Den­nis’s life changed when the symp­toms be­gan to show, so the di­ag­no­sis was no sur­prise.

“In re­tire­ment I got very in­volved with the en­vi­ron­ment in Scot­land, chair­ing a range of char­i­ties, in­clud­ing the Scot­tish Wildlife Trust, and other or­gan­i­sa­tions both na­tion­ally and lo­cally. I even ended up ad­vis­ing Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters on bio­di­ver­sity.

“Per­haps an ill-omen hap­pened to me in Oc­to­ber 2016. I was chair­ing a re­cep­tion at the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment and in­tro­duc­ing the cab­i­net sec­re­tary for en­vi­ron­ment when I sud­denly lost my voice com­pletely. It had never hap­pened to me be­fore.

“In May of 2017 I went to my doc­tor. He re­ferred me to an ENT spe­cial­ist who ex­am­ined my throat and de­tected a slight tremor of the tongue and jaw mus­cles. He won­dered if I might be show­ing signs of Parkin­son’s dis­ease and re­ferred me to a neu­rol­o­gist.

“I then went for more tests and when the re­sults came through in late Novem­ber my con­sul­tant con­firmed that I ap­peared to be suf­fer­ing from MND.

“For me it was not a great shat­ter­ing blow. I’d had plenty of time to re­search the dis­ease. So I knew ex­actly what I was in for.”

“The num­ber of car­ers in my life grows all the time. Top of the list is my wife Mary, she does an amazing job. With­out her I would be sunk and in de­spair.”

“There is also one source of ex­cel­lent help I get and that is from the very will­ing staff of MND Scot­land.

“A re­ally great char­ity. Ev­ery­one with MND in Scot­land should get in touch with them. Just look at the MND web­site (mnd­scot­land. org.uk) to see the full range of what they can pro­vide.” Den­nis Dick MBE (83) has opened up on his ex­pe­ri­ence with MND

My wife Mary does an amazing job. With­out her I would be sunk and in de­spair

Symp­toms

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