Mum is one in a million

HERO mum Lynn Smith cannot remember the last time she had a full night's sleep.She goes to bed at 11pm each night but then at midnight one of her son's needs help - perhaps to turn over or to scratch an itch.

HERO mum Lynn Smith cannot remember the last time she had a full night's sleep.

She goes to bed at 11pm each night but then at midnight one of her son's needs help - perhaps to turn over or to scratch an itch.

At 1am another son wakes her to rearrange his bedding and around 2pm the first son is uncomfortable again.

And so it goes on, 3am, 4am, right up until her alarm buzzes at 5am.

Mrs Smith is, to a point, much like any other loving mother. She cooks, cleans and runs a house for her three sons.

What is different is that in between all those usual motherly tasks, there's no break and her sons are all adults.

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Two of them, Andrew, 23, and Michael, 19, have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a muscle degenerating illness which has left them unable to walk, feed themselves or even scratch an itch.

So instead of preparing them ready to fly the nest, Mrs Smith gives them 24-hour care and prepares herself for a future devoted to her children and nothing else.

And for that, the two boys adore her and wrote to The Evening Star to highlight their mum in a million.

They said: “Our mum does everything for us. She never has a minute's peace.

“When we go to bed she is still on call because we have to be turned several times during the night. She never gets a good night's sleep but she is still up the next day tending to our needs.

“Day after day and night after night our mum is there for us.

“She is totally devoted and we think she is one in a million.”

But for Mrs Smith it is a labour of immense love. Before breakfast she sorts their medicine for a day, throughout the day she juggles housework with tending to their every need and even when they are sound asleep she is called to them almost every hour.

The 44-year-old, of Lovetofts Drive, said: “To be honest, I'm completely knackered, I always am.

“It was years ago I last had a full night's sleep.

“But I'm not bothered. They are my kids and I'll look after them.

“Michael leaves college next year so I might get some more help but I've done it on my own for so long I feel fine about it.

“I admit I don't have a social life or a chance to do hobbies. I read but it's usually just a couple of pages a day. I go out with the boys and this is my life.”

Mrs Smith, who also has another son, Shane, 25, is Andrew and Michael's full-time carer. She employs someone to help 13 hours a week as respite which gives her time to go grocery shopping, or the carer takes Andrew out during the day.

Michael studies maths, English and computing three days a week at Suffolk College in Ipswich.

The illness was first diagnosed when Andrew was six. When he started school the teacher pointed out he could not coordinate his hands and feet in physical education.

The school doctor referred the family to the hospital. A week after Andrew was diagnosed the doctor's said Michael had it as well.

They walked until they were ten years old but now use wheelchairs. They have both had rods put in their pelvises to help keep their back straight.

n. Is your mum a super mum? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

N 5am: Mrs Smith gets up, has a cup of tea and takes Labrador Harley for a short walk.

N 6am: Housework begins, including getting Andrew and Michael's medicines for the day ready.

N 6.30am: Mrs Smith wakes Michael and uses a hoist to get him into his chair. She washes and dresses him and cleans his teeth. She then does the same for Andrew and then gets them both liquidised breakfasts.

N 8.50am: Michael's lift to college arrives.

N 9am - noon: Mrs Smith looks after Andrew throughout the morning. She takes the dog for a second walk, with Andrew, and gets on with the housework.

N Afternoon: Mrs Smith tries to take Andrew out and about. She has a mini bus specially fitted to be able to drive him into town. If she has time, she catches 30minutes or so of sleep before Michael gets home.

N Teatime: Mrs Smith liquidises dinners for the pair and feeds them

N 6.30pm: She hoists Andrew out of his wheelchair, washes him and gets him ready for bed, ensuring he has his aided oxygen for sleeping with. She then does the same for Michael and during the evening the brothers watch television from bed

N 6.30pm to 11pm: Mrs Smith goes to and from her sons, making sure they are comfortable and getting them drinks. They have a baby alarm to make sure they can get her attention. At 11pm she goes to bed.

N All forms of muscular dystrophy are caused by faults in genes which cause progressive muscle weakness because cells break down and are gradually lost.

N The Duchenne type affects only boys and causes a defect in an important protein in muscle fibres called dystrophin.

N Duchenne muscular dystrophy is named after the doctor who first studied the condition in the 1800s.

N Most affected boys show the first symptoms aged between one and three. The features include being unable to run or jump as well as their peers, a difficulty climbing stairs and a difficulty getting up from the floor.

N As they get older and the condition progresses they may be unable to walk as far or as fast as others. Some boys also have learning and/or behavioural difficulties. By the age of 11, boys with Duchenne become wheelchair users. By their late teens or early twenties the condition is severe enough to shorten life expectancy.

n Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a rare condition. About 100 boys are born with the condition in the UK each year and there are about 1,500 boys with the disorder living in the country at any one time.

MICHAEL Smith hit the headlines back in 1997 when The Evening Star teamed up with charity Disability Care Enterprise to give him a new electric wheelchair.

The then 10-year-old said his one wish was to have his own wheelchair, like his brother Andrew.

He handpicked a racing green mobility vehicle, which cost £2,500, and the money was raised at the 1997 Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball.

The chair gave him the independence to go to the shops by himself and race around the park with his brother.

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