Golly, Doddie’s passing has hit me hard.
To be clear, he had a different, rarer illness to me. Motor Neurone Disease, or ALS. It’s the one we all threw ice buckets over ourselves for a few years ago.
It’s never a competition between illnesses, but MND is one of the few that are definitely worse than MS. It’s usually (very) life-limiting and it’s incredibly cruel.
I never met Doddie, but I feel like a kindred spirit has passed. Not least because of his ridiculous clothing sense. He knew the power of personal branding to enhance his story. Now, there are other methods than nonsensing with your clothes. But it works for me and it worked in spades for him.
Shared life experiences
OK. No claims to be a British & Irish Lion or capped sixty+ times for my country. But he was of the same generation as me. I played against one or two of his team-mates. They ran rings round me or stomped over me. But I loved my rugby as a player and remain a lifelong devotee.
We both have/had progressive diseases affecting the nerves and the brain. Here’s the NHS list of common MND symptoms. “Muscle weakness, twitches, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. The symptoms get worse over time.” Sound familiar to MSers?
Fashion choices. See above.
A loving family and special friends. Not to be underrated in helping us cope and thrive. And why I still call myself ‘lucky’.
Doddie’s approach to his fate. I’m not sure he ever said, ‘why me?’. He took his MND diagnosis on board and ran – then hobbled, then rolled – with it. With grace and humour and purpose. Some of the descriptors I am regularly hearing in coverage this morning: ‘A force of nature’. ‘Lit up the room’. ‘A power for good’. ‘Inspiration’. ‘Legend’. ‘Legacy’. I know we say nice things about dead people, but I can guarantee those words will still ring true, long after Doddie’s ashes have settled somewhere in his beloved Scotland.
I choose to live my MS the way Doddie lived his MND. It’s healthier and it’s happier… Sleep well big man.