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Living each day as it comes after long wait for diagnosis

By West Briton  |  Posted: June 21, 2012

  • Richard and Janet Bishop. Pic by Toby Weller Ref: TRTW20120608A-007_C

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A LONGDOWNS man diagnosed with a rare brain disorder for which there is no cure said he was trying to live each day as it comes.

Doctors cannot give Richard Bishop any definitive answers on how the progressive neurological disorder multiple system atrophy (MSA) will affect him or how long he has to live.

It is caused by degeneration in nerve cells in the brain, which can result in problems with movement, balance and automatic functions of the body, such as bladder and blood pressure control.

"My brain is dying," Mr Bishop said. "There is no cure, my future is death and we don't know when that will come.

"But I live each day, you have got to be hopeful. I will keep doing what I can for as long as I can."

Mr Bishop, 62, suffered bouts of dizziness and falls for more than four years and had numerous tests before doctors finally discovered the cause.

"They couldn't find anything wrong and referred him to a psychologist, but I kicked up a fuss," said Mr Bishop's wife Janet. "It is a relief to know what is going on, but it is not the answer we were looking for. We were basically told to look it up on the internet. There is so little research done on it and only two specialist nurses covering the country.

"We have had to go through a grieving period really. We have just got to try and do what we can now."

Mr Bishop sees a Parkinson's nurse (as the symptoms are similar) for speech therapy and attends physiotherapy sessions at Falmouth Hospital.

"The staff there are absolute diamonds," added Mrs Bishop, who runs Doggies and Moggies pet supplies shops.

But as a result of Mr Bishop's illness, Mrs Bishop has sold two of the four shops.

And the couple's house at Halvasso Vean has been adapted to make it easier for Mr Bishop to get around – particularly later when he will need a wheelchair.

He has already had to give up his job as a BT engineer and driving, as well as shooting.

"Cars and shooting were my hobbies and I had to give them up. Nothing will replace it."

The couple have about 15 cats, as reported in the West Briton last week when one returned after going missing for 18 months.

The animals do help to give him some comfort.

Mrs Bishop said: "We have good days and bad days but we try to be as positive as we can as we have children and grandchildren."

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