Viz co-creator Simon Donald on his battle with MS
Viz co-creator Simon Donald has been talking to The Independent newspaper about his battle with multiple sclerosis (MS), the same condition that took his mother’s life. Below are some of the highlights.
On being asked to present a documentary about MS for the Wellcome Trust:
“They wanted a familiar face who had a connection with the condition. And as my mother had MS, they contacted me.”
On finding out he himself had MS during the programme:
“The makers wanted me to be a guinea pig, to show what tests they do when someone is suspected of having it. After we’d done them, the doctor looked at me and said he thought that I had a mild form of MS. I wish that they’d had another camera to film the crew. The looks on their faces!
“I’d had some suspicions. My doctor clearly thought I was a hypochondriac, because often, by the time I saw him, the problem would have passed. We were always told not to worry about MS because it wasn’t a hereditary condition. And it’s not – but you are more likely to have it if you have a parent or sibling with it, which I didn’t realise.”
On his mother’s MS, and how it relapsed after she gave birth to Simon:
“She was unable to walk properly after my birth. So I grew up feeling partially responsible for the fact that she was disabled – probably because everyone kept telling me that I shouldn’t feel responsible. My mother used to call me her consolation prize, which always felt like a bit of a mixed blessing.
“[The condition] wasn’t really explained to us as children, and that made it difficult, My mam and dad both struggled to talk about things, but they had a great sense of humour – we all watched Monty Python and Laurel and Hardy together – and that was how we coped.
“So it was perfectly all right to make jokes about the disability. I know it sounds terrible now but… I used to refer to my mam as Davros [the evil and physically challenged character in Doctor Who].”
On Donald’s MS, and how it effects him when he’s performing stand-up:
“If I get too hot, or too stressed, I seem to lose the ability to think straight and to speak properly. Considering that the job I do involves going on stage in very hot, sweaty rooms, and having to remember your set, it’s probably the worst thing I could do.”
To find out more about the condition visit the MS Society website.