Triple health hit turns life upside down

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Jonathan Ching and Nikki Macpherson.
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Nikki Macpherson and Jonathan Ching are taking life one day at a time after a triple threat of health issues – Multiple Sclerosis, cancer and encephalitis.

It’s turned their world up-side down.

The Rakaia couple met in 2008, got married in 2009, and built a loving blended family with adult children who have now flown the coop.

Jono is a production manager for Ziwi Peak making high end pet food at Burnham, while Nikki works for Vestner New Zealand who supply lifts, elevators, and stairlifts.

Their health struggles started after Nikki, now 48, received a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2020.

It inspired the couple to embrace life wholeheartedly.

But life took another unexpected turn this year when Jono, 45, discovered a blood clot after a bathroom visit. He was diagnosed with colerectal cancer.

He had a 4cm cancerous mass, and nine polyps removed.

While this was happening, Nikki had also fallen ill leading to hospitalisation and a subsequent diagnosis of Autoimmune Limbic Encephalitis – non specific autoimmune limbic temporal.

‘‘One of the big things with this is huge memory loss and huge emotional charges for me,’’ she said.

As a non specific autoimmune ‘‘it means they can’t identify it, so it means they can’t cure it so it is always going to carry on grumbling away … on top of the MS.’’

‘‘We thought we were battling just the MS,’’ Nikki said, when she got very sick over Easter.

It turned out to be a brain virus, which an MRI at Timaru Hospital confirmed.

After nearly 50 days in hospital – at Christchurch and most recently Burwood – Nikki was due home this week to start rehabilitation.

‘‘Jono is going to do as much of it as he can,’’ she said, as they were unable to get a home support person.

‘‘We are going to do it really, very, very hard. We are unfortunately, or fortunately, in a position where we don’t qualify for any kind of support. We’ve done too well.’’

While Jono has also returned to work part time, he still faces weeks of recovery and months of work with occupational therapists and physios.

The loss of income and travel costs are already adding up. They have reluctantly set up a Givealittle page for financial support.

‘‘We are just really grateful for any help that we have already received, and any help that people will give us in the future,’’ Nikki said.

‘‘We’ve been blown away by the Rakaia community, we love living there, that’s our home and we will be there to support it when we can as well.’’