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Rosyth man reconnects with friends 10 years after MND diagnosis

Jim Brown retired after this diagnosis of MND and has now reconnected with old colleagues 10 years on.

Rosyth man reconnects with friends 10 years after MND diagnosis

Posted : 19/06/2017

Jim Brown (73), a retired joiner and construction worker from Rosyth, shares his experience of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) after his diagnosis.

Jim, who is married to retired chambermaid Liz (75), has three children, Lesley (37), Andy (42) and Jimmy (47), as well as two grandsons, Jack (15) and Cory (10).

Jim spent over 20 years working with a tight-knit group of labourers, who built roads, bridges and houses. Their work took him far and wide, from Stonehaven to Essex and from Glasgow to Dundee.

Although the average life expectancy from diagnosis is just 14 months, Jim’s progression with MND has been longer than most, with the first symptoms showing 10 years ago. Due to working in a physically-intensive job, Jim decided to retire at the age of 64 and naturally lost contact with the majority of his work friends, until his daughter Lesley stepped in.

Following her father’s diagnosis with MND, Lesley began doing research on social media so that she could reconnect her dad with his old friends and help organise a group reunion.

Lesley said: “I started searching on Facebook to find people who my Dad knew back in the day, or people who were still in touch with his friends - and we organised a reunion.

“It started with just a few of them, then it grew and grew. The reunion before last, we were up to 14 men, then the last time they all met, there was nearly 20 of them. They choose different locations to meet each time but it’s become a regular get-together every few months, so it’s great for them to all catch up again and see my dad.”

Now reliant on a wheelchair and his family to get around, the reunions have been a good way for Jim to get out of the house and socialise, catch-up with his old friends and trade old stories.

Jim said, “It was in April 2008, when I was 64, that I decided to retire. My job was very physical and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I would work night shifts and if I fell on the way home I could be stuck there all night.

“I first started noticing something was wrong about 10 years ago. I would fall for no reason and wouldn’t have any bounce in my step. My legs were weak as if there was no suspension.

“It took the doctors three years to find out what was wrong with me. They eliminated a brain tumour, trapped nerve and Parkinson’s, among other conditions before giving me an MND diagnosis.

“Since my diagnosis my symptoms have progressed over the years. I cannot walk unaided and even then it is only for short distances or I will get very tired. When we are going out I’ll either use my scooter or a wheelchair.

“My speech has started to go slightly but I can still communicate and tell the family what I want! My symptoms have been fairly static for the last three or four years, but I still rely on my family to help me to do most things.

“I haven’t lost my sense of humour – or my cheek so my daughter tells me! I like to look on the positive and make sure I enjoy my days with my family.

“MND Scotland has been fantastic. I go to their support group in Dunfermline, have used their complementary therapy service, borrowed a bed from their equipment store and have been to their accessible holiday chalet in Oban. I really can’t thank them enough for their continued support.”

This MND Awareness Week you can support our Thunderclap campaign which will post a message of support on your social media pages and you can update your social media profile picture with our ‘Twibbon’. You can also donate to MND Scotland below or donate £5 by texting CUREMND to 70660.

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“I haven’t lost my sense of humour – or my cheek so my daughter tells me! I like to look on the positive and make sure I enjoy my days with my family.”

Jim Brown

Jim Brown