At first it was put down to old age, but a Lake Cargelligo man soon realised the weakness in his arm was much more serious.
In October 2012, fit and healthy family man Tim Trembath found he couldn’t lift his own body weight when his son challenged him to a set of chin-ups. He then checked his strength with one kilogram weights and found his right arm was significantly weaker than his left.
“I did 30 curls quite easily with my left hand but couldn't even make 10 with my right,” Mr Trembath said.
After a trip to his local doctor he was referred to a neurologist who noticed some muscle spasms in his arms and upper body. The neurologist performed some tests and diagnosed him with motor neuron disease (MND).
“It was a real kick in the guts,” Mr Trembath said. “I didn't know much about MND but I had seen Stephen Hawking and knew he suffered from it.”
People with motor neurone disease usually don’t live more than two years after being diagnosed. Luckily, Mr Trembath’s disease seemed to be slow-moving and was confined to his hands, arms and shoulders.
“I find it hard to lift my hands above my shoulders,” Mr Trembath said. “It actually makes me breathless when I use my arms as I get ready for work.
“I need a lot of help from my wife with preparing meals, showering and dressing.”
A progressive degenerative disease, MND affects the connection between the brain and the muscles in the body. Without these crucial connections to muscles, they waste away.
One of the hardest things for Mr Trembath was telling his loved ones, friends and workmates he had a terminal disease. Unsure what to expect, he was surprised when he received “overwhelming” support. A group of friends involved in a motorcycle club organised a fundraising ride for Mr Trembath which raised about $2000. Others soon got on board with a charity fund passing on an anonymous donation of $1000 and local rugby league clubs raising about $3000. He said it was uncomfortable to accept charity but the money helped send him for treatment in Sydney and a motorcycle riding holiday in Tasmania.