It?s one step at a time


FOR most of us, a walk between Junction Hill and Grafton's Market Square might not seem too onerous.

But for 34-year-old father of four Garry Cole, it will be a 90 minute struggle of constant pain and fatigue.

After suffering for eight years, Garry Cole was diagnosed about 12 months ago with one of the 20 strains of muscular dystrophy.

On May 15 Garry will join SES volunteers and others to walk the 5km from Junction Hill to Market Square to raise funds to fight the disease.

His first symptoms occurred three months after his marriage when he was paralysed for 15 minutes. At the time he was working as an apiarist.

He had a series of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests ? travelling to Tugun until a unit opened at Coffs Harbour.

Three years ago he was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis, then visited a Sydney specialist who diagnosed him with fybro myalgia and it was seven years after his first symptoms that he received the correct diagnosis.

"It is permanent and can be fatal," he said. "The main danger is that it affects the heart muscle ... I have had no sign of that yet.

"I want to do this so the younger generation whose parents have this can try to have some sort of hope with treatment, as it is hereditary.

"I do have four kids myself and they have a greater chance of getting this at any stage of their lives."

Garry is still capable of working, but needs to manage his illness through proper exercise and rest. He no longer rtakes painkillers, just puts up with the pain and fatigue.

And it can have some frightening consequences.

"I can lose all feeling in my legs if I sit for a long time," he said. "I was driving be- tween Lismore and Grafton about five years ago and lost all feeling when I got to about Ulmarra.

"I had muscle control but no feeling.

"I just had to get out and walk about."

Now when Garry drives, he stops every 30 minutes to exer- cise his legs.

Anyone interested in participating in the walk or in donating should contact Garry on 66427149 or 0411668483.

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