Plea to peers as a last resort

Morag Mackay is calling on her community for some assistance. After developing a rare nerve disorder, Morag is battling with her medical aid to get the treatment she needs. With seemingly no interest from them, she has turned to BackaBuddy and her peers for assistance. She shares her journey.

I guess you could say that it all started in 1980. I was involved in a motorbike accident the week before my Matric dance. I was dragged for 75 metres by my neck, which broke. It resulted in nine months in hospital. With support from family and friends, I learned how to cope with the loss of an arm and re-learned how to walk, talk, live and love again.

Yet, life comes with many challenges. Surmounting one challenge doesn’t mean that there won’t be other hurdles to overcome.

First came the challenges of having to cope when my much loved mother developed dementia and moved in with me.

When it was no longer possible for me to continue caring for her and a frail care home became the only alternative, the man of my dreams entered my life. With marriage and happiness surrounding me everything was perfect … until I developed a rare nerve disorder.

Looking forward, I continued to set realistic goals for myself by concentrating on what I could still do; how I could cope with my new limitations; how I could make those changes work for me.

With a specialised wheelchair, I then embarked on an overseas holiday of a life time with my new husband Dennis. Life was great! Nothing could go wrong … or so I thought.

My rare nerve disorder is called syringomyelia, Syringo. “What?!” You may ask. This is when a syrinx (cyst) forms within the spinal cord. It expands over time and disrupts the surrounding tissue and muscles, slowly and painfully destroying your spinal cord. There is no cure and it ricochets inside you, which causes additional life altering ailments like scoliosis.

If scoliosis is left unchecked, it can turn your body into a ”twist” like no other. The weakening and destruction of my muscles over a four year period brings me to where I am today.

There is an operation that can be performed, but the risk of failure is dangerously high. The alternative is a back brace and a custom made seating support for my wheelchair. Neither of these will correct my shape, but progression of the curve will be slowed down considerably.

On consultation with my medical aid, I was informed that these assistive devices would not be funded unless I go into hospital and undergo an operation that could put me in a worse position. With apparently no help from my medical aid and no resources of my own, I decided that BackaBuddy could just be the light at the end of the tunnel.

Any donation towards these two life altering aids will ensure that, every day, I’m still be able to do the little that I can, but that is not to say the buck stops here. I will be challenging my medical aid and encourage others to do the same.

By denying me the assistance I need, the board members of the organisation in question are putting the hypocritic oath in dispute, which raises the question: Is “first do no harm” a myth?

You can learn more about Morag’s condition and donate to her campaign at

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