Banbridge couple Paul and Elaine Donnell will be holding a ‘Cake Break’ in Loughbrickland Presbyterian Church hall to raise funds to help the Multiple Sclerosis Society to help others.
It was nine years ago that Paul received a devastating diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
Speaking of how suddenly it struck, Elaine said: “Paul went to bed one night and the next morning he woke up and couldn’t see.
“I got him to an optician straight away and he told us Paul had not gone blind. Sure enough, this was right - his sight did come back but when it did, he was left with double vision.
“He was then referred for a brain scan and after that we received the diagnosis that it was MS.
“That’s how suddenly it hit him - literally overnight.”
It was shattering news for Paul and Elaine.
“We had two small children - one just on the way,” said Elaine. “Paul was left with no feeling at all in his left leg - you could literally pour boiling water over it and he wouldn’t even know.
“He walks with the gait of a drunk man and gets very tired easily. He still suffers with double vision and takes terrible muscle spasms.”
Paul is currently on a cocktail of 20 plus drugs a day and receives injections weekly. The family have also had to learn to live one day at a time.
Elaine said: “One day Paul will be great and you’ll make plans to do something a few days on, but by the next day he’ll say ‘I can’t do this.’”
Paul however, has a very positive attitude.
“He’s not a defeatist,” said Elaine. “He often says he has MS, but MS doesn’t have him.
“He still manages to work a bit too as a mechanic.”
Elaine says she and Paul are indebted for the support the MS Society have given them.
“They were always at the other end of the phone if we needed help or counselling,” she said. “If Paul experienced a new symptom, we could phone them for reassurance and they can ease your worries.
“We also attended a course they ran for newly diagnosed sufferers in the Banbridge area and we were shocked to find over 50 people at this.
“And then there is the research they are doing. They are always looking at new drugs and researching ways to help sufferers.
“As yet there is no known cure, but there are drug treatments available which manage the symptoms.”
Paul and Elaine are organising the Cake Break with the help of friends and family and support from the church. They say they are keen to help the MS Society to help others with the same condition.
The Cake Break takes place on Friday, May 20, from 10.30am to 4pm in Loughbrickland Presbyterian Church Hall and Paul and Elaine would appreciate all support.