Every Mother’s Day is precious to MND mum - she doesn’t know how many are left
Alison McDonald was three months pregnant when she was given a devastating MND diagnosis - now she's making the most of the time she has left with her son Corey.
Mothering Sunday is a very special day for Glasgow mum Alison McDonald, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) three months after giving birth to her first baby, Corey.
Alison knows she may not have many Mothers’ Days ahead due to disease - a terminal illness which weakens the muscles and can result in losing the ability to walk, speak, eat and breathe unaided.
But despite the devastating diagnosis, Alison is determined to make the most of the time she does have with her little son.
Alison, 36, first noticed something was wrong when she couldn’t move her left leg and toes anymore.
In July 2013, she decided to go to the doctor but after many tests it was still not clear what the problem was.
I have to remind myself that I’m here right now and I want to take full advantage of the time I have left with him
A few months later she found out she was pregnant and during her pregnancy she continued to go through tests without any diagnosis.
Full-time mum Alison said: “I was so excited when I found out I was having Corey. I’d been trying to get pregnant for a while and couldn’t believe it was finally happening. It was also a really frustrating time for me because I didn’t know what was wrong with my leg.
“Six months into my pregnancy I had to start using crutches because my left leg had gone completely floppy. It was quite frightening because it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do.”
She continued: “Once I was finally given the news that I had MND, in October 2014, I was shocked. I remember saying to my husband “is that what Fernando Ricksen has” I didn’t really know what it meant and to begin with I didn’t want to know the details – I knew it was terminal and I was terrified.”
Corey is mostly cared for by Alison’s sister Lynn and 21-year-old niece Tammie. “I’ve lost the strength in my arms and hands, and the last time I walked independently was on my wedding day. I’ve been in a wheelchair since last April and can’t be left alone with my own child anymore,” Alison said.
“It’s heartbreaking for me to watch my family take care of my son. I can’t lift him when he cries or isn’t well, I can’t change his nappy and I’ve never even pushed him in his buggy. I have missed out on so many things that new mums get to experience.
“One of the ways I can still have quality time with my son is to read to him and sing songs and nursery rhymes – this is one of the joys in my life.
“Tammie has been a huge help. She lives with me and helps take care of Corey when my sister, Lynn, can’t. My family have been my rock. The house is always really busy with Corey, my family and the dogs, Hera and Leo. It’s great because it helps me take my mind off all of things that worry me about the future.
“Corey is what keeps me going, he gets me up in the morning. I often think about how I probably won’t be here for his 18th birthday or his wedding day, and about how much I am going to miss out on. But then I have to remind myself that I’m here right now and I want to take full advantage of the time I have left with him.
“I have my down days but mostly I try to remain positive. People say I have a good sense of humour about the situation. A positive mind-set keeps me strong and fighting.”
Craig Stockton, MND Scotland’s chief executive, said: “It is important for people to know that this disease can affect anyone, even someone as young as Alison. However, it isn’t something people have to deal with alone.
“MND Scotland is here to support you and your family through this difficult journey in any way we can. MND affects everyone differently, so no matter what stage you’re at, we can help. From care and support to advice and guidance, our services can offer a real lifeline for people with MND.
“We can provide one-to-one counselling, support groups, complementary therapy, a loan of our communications equipment and more. Take a look at our website to find out more about the ways we can help you and your family.”