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Kim Wheeler (42) is scaling new heights to conquer her fear forcharity, MND Scotland, by abseiling the Forth Rail Bridge this June.
Kim, who is married to Ray (51) and mum to Lauren (19, lives in Edinburgh, just 10 minutes away from her parents. Sadly,Kim’s dad, David Croy (73), was diagnosed with the terminal illness, Motor Neurone Disease (MND), 15 months ago.
Beginning with weakening muscles on the left/right hand side of his body the grandfather of many, was given a life expectancy of just two years.
Kim, a qualified nurse, remembers the day her dad received his devastating diagnosis. “He went to see the consultant on his own. No one expected what was about to come. He just thought the consultant was going to give him more physio or he’d get some medication. We were all shocked.
“First the doctors thought it was cancer because his shoulder was collapsing, then they tested him for Parkinson’s. I new of MND. A friend of mine had fundraised for MND Scotland in the past, but it never occurred to me that my dad would be diagnosed with this terrible disease.
“It’s been really difficult for the whole family, especially my mum. She was so upset when she found out but we’ve all pulled together. My dad is the kind of man who doesn’t let anything get in his way.
“He was told “two years” but I think he’ll pass that. He’s doing okay; he’s still driving at the moment, driving helps him keep his independence; he can go to the shops, put a bet on at the bookies and just get out and about. I worry that if that stops, he’ll give up.
“He’s already had to give up gardening which was a huge passion of his – his pride and joy. But he still has a good attitude and often says ‘You know what, I’ve had a really good life.’We’ve come to accept what’s happening to a certain point and as a family just trying to enjoy our time together.”
Some people who have MND may also experience changes in their behaviour, personality and the way they think. Kim said, “This has been difficult for us as a family. Physically he can still do a lot of things for himself. Some days are better than others, but he is a fighter and never gives up trying.
“He’s the youngest of ten and he’s the only one of all his siblings not to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He’s taking part in a research project in Edinburgh’s Anne Rowling Clinic to see if there is a genetic link to Alzheimer’s could have any connection to his MND.”
Coming to terms with her dad’s diagnosis, Kim has now decided to take on her own challenge and overcome her fear of heights by taking on the Forth Rail Bridge abseil, while raising funds and awareness for MND Scotland.
“I am now so scared of heights I find it difficult to fly when going on holiday, but I want to do something to raise money to help others in the same situation and to help find a cure for this disease.
“This is also the first time I’ve really spoken about my dad’s illness. I’ve told people he has MND but I can’t go into detail about his symptoms or what’s ahead. It’s just been too difficult but I also want to help raise awareness, so this has pushed me to open up and share our story.
“I am a bit nervous about the abseil itself but I know my family will be there on the day to cheer me on and give me the courage I need.
“My dad laughed when I told him what I was doing it; ‘a piece of cake’ according to him. But he also said ‘Don’t worry I’ll be at the bottom to catch you!’”.