Thursday 14th January 1993 Dinner 19:00

“How was Dr Lewis?” my Dad asked.
“She was alright.”
“Did she have a good Christmas?”
“She said it was very quiet.”
“Really!”
“Yes, and New Year. She didn’t go to a party or anything.” For some reason, I had felt relieved when Dr Lewis told me this.”
“Did you see any interesting patients, today?” Mum asked.
“We did, actually. Dr Lewis thinks that Norman White has got Motor neurone disease.”
“Motor neurone disease?” Dad looked surprised.
“He has been feeling tired and weak for a while. Then, over the last couple of months, he has started to have problems swallowing. When Dr Lewis examined Mr White’s mouth, she could see fasciculation of his tongue. The muscles in his arms were doing the same thing.”
“Trust Dr Lewis to pick up a rare condition like that,” Mum said. She always looked very impressed when she spoke about Dr Lewis. I smiled to myself.
“I think we’ve only had 3 or 4 cases since I’ve been in the practice,” said Dad. He looked thoughtfully at his shepherd’s pie. “I hope Dr Lewis is wrong.”
I scowled. “Why?”
“Motor neurone disease is terrible, Dennis,” said Mum. “I couldn’t bear it. I think it is one of the worst illnesses you can have. Do you remember Jim Padgett, Desmond?”
“Of course, Daphne. I won’t ever forget Jim. He used to have awful choking episodes. The slightest thing could set them off: a lump of phlegm, a tiny bit of food and even drinks. Beryl used to get so frightened. Jim tried to be as brave as he could. We would go rushing up to the house but there wasn’t much we could do. Either they would settle or they wouldn’t.” Dad sighed.
“How did he die in the end?” Mum asked.
“He got pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia.” Dad looked at me. “We think some food went down into his lungs and set off an infection. It was a blessing really.”
Mum nodded emphatically in agreement. “Do you know it’s been 10 years since he died, Desmond?”
“It doesn’t seem as long ago as that. I suppose we are due another case, then.”

Motor neurone disease.