Reporter Kristen Alebakis speaks to Gail Maywood about her battle with Motor Neurone Disease.
What would your reaction be if your doctor had told you, you had a life threatening disease and there was no cure?
How would you feel?
Would you be angry?
What would you say?
Bendigo woman Gail Maywood was put in this exact position early this year.
She was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, a disease that involved the failure of nerve cells controlling the muscles that enable us to walk, talk, swallow and breathe.
In that moment, sitting there in the Doctor’s office, she was forced to make a decision.
“You have to go with it,” she said.
“You can go negative or you can go the other way.
“My glass is 100 per cent full.
“Fifty per cent with water and 50 per cent with air.
“You don’t know what is going to happen but my glass is full.
“I look for a silver lining every day because I don’t want to live a restricted life.
“I look for the good in other people and I look for a positive every day.”
That is Gail’s mantra, to live every day to the fullest.
However it hasn’t been that simple.
In 2011, her body wasn’t doing what her brain wanted it to do.
She was searching for answers.
“I was under multiple investigations and it wasn’t until I moved to Bendigo in May this year, when I spoke with a neurologist,” she said.
“I have always collected my medical bits and pieces and I took it to the doctor, he looked at everything and he told me I had Motor Neurone Disease.”
Gail, a theatrical nurse, said she was frustrated that previous doctors hadn’t been able to make proper diagnoses.
She said doctors had told her to have a Laminectomy, a spinal operation.
“I thought beaut, I would be able to get back to work soon,” Gail said.
“I got to the six week stage and noticed my toes weren’t as strong
“I did all my exercises and I kept getting worse.
“I was falling down every day.
“If it wasn’t for the kindness of total strangers picking me up I would have been a dead ant on the ground.”
Gail said Motor Neurone Disease was when your nerves forget to send the messages from the brain to the bone to the muscles.
“It is when the motor nerves start to not work,” she said.
“Which is why I started falling.
“Why my muscles started to quiver.
“My legs want to work but they can’t.
“It is the disruption of the nerve pathways.”
Gail said the hardships she had faced had changed her outlook on life.
I have been blessed in that I have been able to see the best in other people.
“When people ask me, how do you feel having Motor Neurone Disease? I say I’m blessed,” she said.
“I have been blessed in that I have been able to see the best in other people.
“Not blessed that I have it, it is a disgusting, nasty disease but I feel blessed because I have been able to see the best in to total strangers.”
The 56-year-old is now in a wheel chair, she cannot walk.
She said her relationship with her husband Dannie had changed.
“My husband has turned from being a man into a carer, the housekeeper, having to help me shower,” Gail said.
“Our relationship has changed.
“We have a lot of giggles and laughs because the things that I ask him to do I would never let him do in the past.”
Gail said now she wanted to get the word out there about the disease, she says she wants to become an advocate for the disease and get people talking.
“I am going to put it out there,” she said.
“I am going to tell people about it.
“Motor Neurone Disease has been around since the 1860s and in that time they still don’t know what causes it, how to cure it or how to get the best out of it.”
Gail said she had just signed up to Facebook.
She said Facebook allowed her to connect with family and friends.
“It is my world,” Gail said.
“My world is different; my world is how I look at it.
“I get messages of hope on Facebook from people I have known all my life.
“It makes me feel proud that I have done something good.”