The undeniably hard working and gregarious Miche Broad has had a successful career organising golf tournaments all over the world. When she went to Australia in February 2009 for the Johnnie Walker Classic tournament, and as her husband for eight years, Chris, was away refereeing cricket matches in Pakistan, she took a few extra weeks to ‘whizz round the country seeing friends’. Little did Miche imagine that when she landed in Adelaide, her life would change irrevocably.
“I was having a glass of wine with a friend and suddenly began talking as if I had drunk at least ten” a confusing experience to have.
“It was very odd. Then, when I went on to Perth for the golf tournament, I started getting painful cramps in my hands and arms and a strange tingling in my fingers. A girlfriend insisted I consult the tournament doctor and he sent me straight to a local neurologist. He recommended that when I returned home I saw Professor Pamela Shaw. I didn’t know at the time that she was an expert on motor neurone disease.”
Miche saw Professor Shaw, director of the Sheffield Care and Research Centre for Motor Neurone Disorders, in the May following her trip. She put Miche through two days of painful but necessary diagnostic tests. Miche was to return for her results ten days later.
“When, just before my appointment, she asked for Chris to come with me, I suddenly became very nervous… the diagnosis was MND”
“Professor Shaw was straight forward, calm and kind as she told us the truth but said we shouldn’t look it up on the internet as it gave such a distorted view. I immediately did look it up. It was a terrible shock and I thought, ‘Oh no. I am not going to get better.’”
Miche had the bulbar palsy variation of the disease, where the muscles used for talking, chewing and swallowing are affected first.
Her increased slurring of words can be exceptionally frustrating; as the disease does not affect the brain Miche was intensely aware of the effects on her body.
“I know my life has been curtailed, but I am a very positive person and my attitude is that as there is nothing I can do about it, I am going to try to live each day as it comes.”
Chris cut back on his working schedule to care for Miche, and took over the cooking at mealtimes. Everything had to be liquidised so that she could swallow it.
Despite her change in circumstances and lifestyle Miche remained her outgoing self. She still took their border collie out for walks “she is a very intelligent dog and has become much more affectionate over the past six months. We suspect she realises things aren’t 100 per cent.”
“So far my legs are pretty good. My left arm is the weaker of the two and I can’t lift anything heavy with either hand. When it’s cold, both hands become affected and I can’t even do my trousers up. Chris helps and will even put my earrings in.”
Miche and Chris travelled to Alaska for a whale watching trip in June this year.
“I am not going to sit in a corner and think, my life has been severely curtailed I have got things to do and places to go”.
This is typical of her immensely positive attitude.
Sadly Miche’s personal battle with motor neurone disease came to an end on Wednesday 7 July 2010.