A diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is one of the most devastating blows a person can face. However Les Waldron has not let it change his positive outlook on life.
MND is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells controlling the muscles that enable us to move, speak, breathe and swallow undergo degeneration and eventually die.
Les, 82, noticed something was wrong when he could not grip his club during a round of golf.
“Then my hands became swollen and the doctors could not find out why. Later I had trouble walking and required a walking stick.”
Following a series of tests, visits to neurologists, and the monitoring of his symptoms over more than a year, Les was diagnosed with the terminal disease in 2012.
“When I got the news it was just a relief to know what was wrong with me,” he said.
Rather than focus on what MND was taking from him, Les decided to get on with life in its new form.
“I started to do things my body would allow me to do at any particular time. While I could walk, I would do the garden, then as the MND progressed I just modified my activities.”
Les moved to Villa Maria Catholic Homes’ Bundoora aged care residence in September 2014. His wife, Kath, joined him in October 2014 before she sadly passed away from a stroke.
Now in a wheelchair, Les hasn’t let the hard times set him back. He enjoys using his computer to play games and send emails, joins in with social activities at the residence and loves to be visited by family members and friends.
“My friends are great, we always have a laugh when they come around. Relatives look after me and pick me up if I need to go somewhere. Another love has come to my life, a Great Granddaughter, Tahlia.”
Bundoora Lifestyle Coordinator Lydia Pisevski described Les as “inspirational”.
“He is a lovely man with a wonderful sense of humour. Staff really adore him.”
Les said he wanted to share his story to help people see they could cope in the face of adversity.
“Everybody feels a loss when what they have planned for in life comes to a shattering end and you need to pick up the pieces and start over,” he said.
“When goals you set for yourself no longer exist, you just need to make new ones.”
Les said it’s important to remain positive but ask for help when you need it.
“I like to cram as much into what time is left of my life; give staff at the aged care residence all the trouble I can and surround myself with people who love me and whom I love, because that’s all we need in life.”