A SCOTS mum has spoken of the heartbreaking moment she had to memorise her children’s faces before losing her sight to multiple sclerosis.
Mel Donaldson, from Livingston in West Lothian, was first diagnosed with the debilitating disease when her sight started to fail in 2010.
Doctors told her that the diagnosis of Optic Neuritis, the painful inflammation of the optic nerve which causes full or partial blindness, was often the first sign of MS in sufferers.
The 39-year-old was told that “it would only be a matter of time” before she lost her vision entirely.
She is now organising a ball to raise money for the MS Society, with Harry Potter author JK Rowling invited.
At the time the mum of two was running a successful florist business but she soon started to suffer from severe headaches and loss of vision.
She recalls being in bed one day and her young son Cameron, 13, coming in to speak to her.
Mel said: “He came into my room and was chatting away. He thought I was ignoring him because I wasn’t looking at him. He said ‘Mum can you see me?’ and I just said ‘no, Cameron I can’t’. My vision had completely gone. It was terrifying.”
Mel then faced a nine day stint in hospital after becoming completely blind, while she learnt to cope with her condition.
Now, Mel faces a daily battle, constantly bumping into objects and falling down stairs – her kids. Cameron and Caitlin, 10, are her main support.
The brave mum says that now she is determined not to forget what her children look like.
She said: “My vision started to go in late 2009 early 2010 and I was getting headaches and stuff so I decided to go to the doctor.
“He found a shadow behind my eye and sent me to the opthamologist.
“From there I was sent for a scan where they found out I had Optic Neuritis, but there was no sign of MS. I knew that my vision was going to just keep getting worse. But I was determined that I would remember my kids faces.
She continued: “One afternoon I sat and just stared at my kids.
“I wanted to take in every detail about their appearances.
“Their, hair, eyes, skin, everything. They’re just beautiful and have made my life worth living.”
Despite the diagnosis, Mel was sure there was something else wrong and eventually decided to go for private health care to get to the root of her constant tiredness.
Made my life worth living
And just nine months later, a scan revealed she had MS.
Mel says she remembers the moment she had to tell her children.
She said: “Well I got the results from the tests and sat the kids around the kitchen table. When I told Cameron and Caitlin that I had it the first thing Camie asked me was ‘Mum, are you going to die?’
“My heart broke.
“I explained to the kids what it would mean and we read through the books given to us by the doctors for the children to help them understand.”
She continued: “Some of my vision is returning now. I can see blurry outlines of things but not detail so to be honest going out alone can be very, very scary.
“But I’ve got to do it. First and foremost I’m a mum, the disease comes second to my kids.”
And now, more determined than ever, the brave Mum has thrown herself into fundraising for the MS Society of Scotland and will be holding a glamorous ball next month.
She said after a chance encounter with the Harry Potter author JK Rowling in Ikea, she wrote to the star, formally inviting her to the event.
She has yet to receive a reply but Mel insists the night will be a success regardless and will aim to raise vital funds and awareness for the disease.
The event will be held on October 26 at the Livingston Football Club’s The City Stadium.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK. Scotland has a far higher number of MS sufferers with an estimated one in every 500 Scots affected.
Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, but it can affect younger and older people too.
Almost three times as many women have MS as men.