PATRICIA Gachagan once was a primary school teacher. She loved her job, and she was good at it. It took her to London, then Barcelona, then back to her native Glasgow. She was something of a gym addict, too. She was fit and healthy.
But in her late 30s, after she had given birth to her first child, a boy named Elliot, her life changed. Her immune system began to turn on itself, and her health began to deteriorate. From the very first day after giving birth, she says, she instinctively knew that something was wrong. Her illness reached the point where she had no option but to take early retirement.
Gachagan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition she has continued to find ways of living with. Still only 49, she has not only written a book that narrated her story of MS and motherhood but, as of last weekend, she has also become a presenter on a newly-launched global online radio station, the MS & Me Radio Network, launched by the Multiple Sclerosis Global Support Network.
Working from a laptop in the kitchen of her home in Garthamlock, in the east end of Glasgow, she has become the only UK presenter on the station, which describes itself as a “informational series of radio programmes for MS patients, caregivers and families”. Her contribution, which will go under the title of “The Positively Different MS Show”, will, much like the book, show people how to find the positives in their situation and not to dwell on the negatives. Her first show went out at 2:30pm today. Her sister, Margaret Anne, is the producer.
Gachagan considers herself eminently qualified for such a role, having turned her own situation from, as she puts it, a prognosis of disability and vulnerability to one of hope and ability.
“I had Elliot, in April of 2006, and almost immediately my body reacted”, she says. It was put down to post-pregnancy difficulties, but she never recovered. The illness showed no sign of going away and after a few weeks I realised I was losing feeling in my feet and the bottom of my legs, and I was having difficulty walking. At that point the medical world thought, ‘This might be something else’. Up until then, they had stuck to it being related to my Caesarean.