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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Spring 2019

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MSWA MEMBER CHRIS MORGAN: FASTEST MAN IN AUSTRALIA WITH MS Three years ago, Chris Morgan was working as a heavy construction welder on Barrow Island. Life was on track - great job, nice apartment, wonderful partner and several big-boy toys to play with. Initially Chris noticed he was getting fatigued more quickly at work which he put down to working long hours in extreme heat. But then he started tripping over. A visit to the doctor started many tests which ended with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, in September 2016. He was told to go on medication and was referred to the MSWA Physiotherapy Department for assessment. He joined MSWA’s Wednesday night gym class, doing 40 minutes gym work followed by another 40 minutes in the pool. The gym also provided a tightknit social group where anything was up for discussion. The social outlet was a bonus as Chris had had to give up work. The friendship gained at the MSWA gym saw Chris take part in the 2017 Ocean Ride, in which he raised over ,000 for the organisation, something he would repeat the following year. Chris went to the 2018 MSWA Step Up Challenge to watch the MSWA physiotherapy team climb over 1,000 steps to the top of one of Perth’s tallest buildings. However, he woke up with a desire to challenge himself so with no training under his belt, he decided to join in. His fellow gym mates breathed a sigh of relief when Chris eventually emerged on top of the roof. Around this time, Chris was finding it difficult to ride his tall motorbike on the road. Wayne and Todd Patterson, owners of Wayne Patterson’s Motorcycle Centre in A proud moment for Chris as he wins Motorplex Rookie of the Year. Photo credit: Phil Luyer. Bunbury, suggested he could help Chris begin his motorbike racing career by building him a special Ducati Race Bike. That was all the encouragement Chris needed, and a dream started being whispered to close friends. “I want to race in the WA Drag Race Season. I’d like to be the fastest man on a motorbike with MS, over a quarter mile on the drag strip,” said Chris. News of his quest was spreading. Another sponsor came on board, Bunbury Dyno. The bike arrived in October 2018. Initially his times were inconsistent, and Chris admitted that he faced a big learning curve, made easier with the support forming around him. “They are a good bunch of people who treat me like normal, I feel accepted,” said Chris. At home his partner Ebony, started to feel worried about him hurting himself and setting back all his hard work. “But once I was at the track, I was relieved to see the great family who support him, and his gym work had definitely paid off,” said Ebony. Chris soon made it into the firstround elimination, and after five races he was consistently clocking personal best times. His walking improved, and he had no interest in riding his old motorbike on the road. “Racing has changed my life. There were some dark times, but this has taken my mind off all the crap. Things are not as bad as they seem. I believe in myself again. I might even give welding a crack again.” Most recently, Chris was awarded Rookie Rider of the Year 2018/2019 in the Perth Motorplex WA Drag Racing Championships Awards. “We’ve proved that even with MS you can do it and there are people who will help. Put in the effort, find the right people, and have a crack.” GLENNYS MARSDON MSWA BOARD MEMBER 18

MSWA MEMBER ANIMAL FARM When I was a child my family sometimes called me Rozzie Red Cheeks. You can probably work out why. My oldest sister Anita became known at school as Skita. As long as I can remember my middle sister Christine’s name has been shortened to Chris. My sister Jenny, who was born slightly less than 12 months after me, forever usurping my position in the family as the spoilt youngest, was often called Jenny-Wren, which is a cute little name with nothing negative about it (adding to my jealousy of her). When my daughter was born I tried to pick a name that was neither too long nor too short, one that wouldn’t easily lend itself to being made into a nickname. About a month before her birth I read a book set in Greece called Eleni, which is the Greek version of the name Helen. I loved the name and being half Greek myself I thought it was appropriate to choose it for my daughter. Soon after her birth, I discovered that my Greek great-grandmother’s name had also been Eleni, which was pleasing. Nevertheless, by the time my daughter was in grade six at school her friends had begun shortening her name to Len, clearly finding three syllables too onerous. Soon the name stuck and even her teachers began using it. Not me though. To me she will always be Eleni. Australians are known for their playfulness with the English language. If we can shorten a noun, or change it slightly, we will. We love to have a barbie at Chrissy, where we will open our pressies, eat a snagger or two while downing a champers. The other day I decided to enjoy some sunshine and went from my house down to the river in my electric wheelchair. On the way I passed a unit where a couple of blokes were sitting out the front at a table enjoying some beers. I’ve seen them there before and we’ve exchanged a cheery hello. This time however, they were feeling garrulous and asked me where I was heading. Introductions were made and I found out their names were Daz and Jase, and I introduced myself as Ros. We chatted for a while. They asked me about my wheelchair, and I told them that I had been diagnosed at the age of 26 with multiple sclerosis. They were interested, and asked me some questions. I asked them if they had bought tickets in our lotteries. Later in the conversation I mentioned it had been 31 years this year since my diagnosis. At that point Jase, displaying impressive mental arithmetic, said to me, “Geez, you’re not a bad-looking old chook for a 57 year old!” I met with a friend the next day, and she told me that she had been jokingly called a mad cow by someone in her life recently. Someone she knew well enough to forgive, obviously. Another friend, while telling me about a mistake she had made while driving, referred to herself as a silly goose. I have an acquaintance who is a pig around chocolate, and one who follows the latest fashion trends like a sheep. If we all got together we’d have a complete farmyard. When I was 17, I was a gorgeous chick making eyes at all the young bucks. Now I am a not bad-looking old chook having random conversations with a couple of tipsy turkeys. ROS HARMAN MSWA MEMBER 19

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