Andy’s MND Story

May 5, 2021 | 0 comments

In early 2010, life was good. We had two young children, had just moved back to Nottinghamshire, close to my parents in Bingham, and Forest even had a decent team for a change!

In the January of that year, my parents flew to Lanzarote for a winter break. A couple of hours after they landed, I got a phone call from my Mum, Gerry. They had been for a quick walk on the beach and my Dad, Harry, had fallen over some rocks, breaking his ankle. It ruined their holiday of course but we didn’t realise at the time that it was the start of a much more difficult period in our lives. 

After a few days, my parents flew back with his ankle in plaster, together with my brother Matthew who had flown out to help, and Dad started his recovery. The bones gradually healed but he just couldn’t get his leg working properly. His foot, and then feet, started dropping when he walked. He started getting a fluttering sensation in his arms too. We didn’t have a clue what was happening. 

After many months of tests, my parents went to an appointment at the QMC in Nottingham, at which they were to be given the diagnosis. On the way home from work that day, I phoned them to see if what the outcome was. I’ll never forget Mum telling me, “it’s motor neurone disease”. I had heard of it but had no idea what it was really. “That doesn’t sound too bad”, I said naively. Mum explained briefly what it meant and I had been wrong, very wrong. I remember desperately needing petrol and filled my tank with the wrong fuel. 

Life changed forever after that day. My parents had to make all sorts of very expensive changes to their home. Ramps, a stair lift, new wet room and endless hand rails and mobility devices. They needed a new car with mobility controls for my Dad, always a keen driver. Even that became too much and another new car arrived that enabled his wheelchair to be driven into the back. His driving days were over. 

Over the months that followed, one thing after another started to change and get more difficult. He couldn’t walk, use his arms, and swallowing, talking and bodily functions got harder and harder. Mum was his main carer until nearly the end which put a huge strain on her. She is only small and it was a huge challenge to get him dressed, washed and into bed each day. She was simply incredible and never complained, but it was very hard for her indeed. 

We continued to have some good times as a family, including a great holiday to Anglesey in late 2011 with all the family and celebrated birthdays as properly as we could. Our attempt to have the same holiday in 2012 proved too difficult and my parents decided not to come with us.

By early 2013, Dad found it increasingly difficult to speak, needing 24 hour care, and was on a breathing machine that forced air in and out of his lungs to keep him alive. A proud man, this was really difficult for him. 

By April, Dad couldn’t talk at all and communicated by pointing at letters on a laminated card. For me, the inability to have a normal conversation with him was the hardest thing. Towards the end, there was something he wanted to tell me (probably something practical about key locations or computer passwords), but couldn’t, and it was so frustrating and upsetting for him. I still think a lot about what that might have been. 

He managed to maintain a sense of humour throughout though, despite the emotional rollercoaster that people living with MND go through.

Harry Thompson

Later in April 2013, he was admitted to hospital and we were told to expect the worst. I visited all the time and on one visit to his ward on the high dependency unit, I learned that since the previous evening, two of the four patients had sadly died. When I mentioned this to him, his wicked, and sometimes dark, sense of humour came out when he slowly pointed to the following letters on his laminated card: I V E – N E A R L Y – W O N. He couldn’t speak but was laughing so hard that tears were running down his face!

Dad passed away at the end of May 2013, on my son’s 7th birthday, at the age of 65. It was a dreadful way for his life to end. He was a lovely, funny man, couldn’t do enough for his family and friends, and to see his body decline while his mind remained fine due to MND was so hard to be a part of. 

We had so much help from friends, family and the fantastic Nottinghamshire branch of the MND Association. It is vital we raise as much money as possible to find a cure and support other families in the same position.

Andy Thompson

Andy’s story is so sad, yet so relatable to mine and many of the other families who have lost or have loved ones suffering with MND. This is exactly why I’m doing my Mission.

If you’d like to get involved with Fothers Mission 24, you can do so in many ways. Donations can be made via a dedicated JustGiving page, you can become a sponsor and enjoy a range of benefits. Alternatively, we appreciate all the support so feel free to spread the word and share this website with friends, family and colleagues or follow me on social media (links in the footer).

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