ON a walk through her local park, pushing her new baby son in his pram, Patricia Gachagan suddenly had an overwhelming sensation she was about to fall.

“It was like the pram was rolling away from me, and I couldn’t keep up,” she recalls. “I couldn’t feel my feet. I started to panic.”

It was, says Patricia, the moment she realised the way she had been feeling, since giving birth to Elliot four weeks earlier, was not simply due to becoming a new mum.

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“I knew there was something going on,” she says, simply. “I’d felt unwell in hospital, but it was just put down to a long, exhausting labour and emergency Caesarian.

“At home, I’d struggled with tiredness and had noticed patches of numbness on my body – particularly around my abdomen. Again, it was assumed it was all to do with what I had been through.”

She adds: “In fact, my body was breaking down – my immune system was attacking me in error, the doctors explained, triggering MS. I had multiple sclerosis.”

Shocked and scared, Patricia nevertheless decided on the day of her diagnosis that she would be the mother she always planned to be.

“I was determined to bring up my son, to live my life the way I wanted to,” she says, emphatically. “I refused to let MS get in the way.”

Patricia has written a book, Born Together, about the simultaneous demands of motherhood and her declining health. It is an emotional rollercoaster of a read, which has already received rave reviews.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the response to the book,” smiles Patricia, 49, who lives in Garthamlock. “It’s funny – I had really stopped telling people I had MS, because I’d had so many negative reactions. Some of my friends drifted away – I think they found the whole thing uncomfortable. Others treated me differently – patronising me almost, and that was hard. So I stopped telling people.”

She adds: “Since the book came out, so many people have told me how inspiring they have found it and that is amazing. It has been a much more positive experience, talking about my MS. And for me, writing the book has been a therapeutic experience. Once I started telling the story, I couldn’t stop – I just poured it all into the book.”

Patricia grew up in Cranhill, but left Glasgow for London at the age of 20. After a spell in the civil service while she lived with her brother, she completed her postgraduate teaching qualification and worked in Barcelona.

When her dad fell ill with cancer, she came home to help her mother, Margaret, look after him.

“It was the right thing to do – my dad died just 10 days after I arrived back in Glasgow,” says Patricia. “I stayed with my mum for a while, always planning to go back to Barcelona at some point. But then I met my husband, and everything changed.”

Patricia and her husband Allan Johnston were over the moon to discover they were expecting their first child.

“Life was great – I was never away from the gym, I was healthy, we were happy,” smiles Patricia.

“When Elliot was born it was fantastic. I can’t really explain what those first few weeks and months were like. I was feeling so unwell, but we were so happy at the same time, to be new parents. It’s a strange mix of emotions, but I have many, many lovely memories of that time.”

Patricia admits her first emotion, after receiving the diagnosis of MS, was fear.

“I was scared – all I could think was, how will I cope being a mum?” she says. “All these thoughts went through my head – will I need a wheelchair? Can I look after him if Allan is at work? It was terrifying.”

At the same time, Patricia resolved to take control.

“I bought a self help guide, which became my Bible, changed my diet and refused the disease-modifying drugs they offered me because of the side effects,” she explains.

“I researched every supplement under the sun and channelled all my energy into finding treatments and therapies that might help – some were more successful than others.”

She adds: “The most recent is a therapy called Robo-Physio, which is still in development funded by Medical Research Scotland and the Scottish Government Enterprise Scheme, but it is promising. It’s a spinal massage table that releases stiffness in the spine and it’s had great results on my fatigue, balance and walking.

“It’s balance I find hardest – I can walk around the house and I don’t use a wheelchair, but I need someone’s arm outside. Allan and Elliot are always there to help.”

Elliot is now 11 - smart, funny and football-daft, and unfazed by his mother’s battle with MS.

“He’s a great support and a lovely boy,” smiles Patricia. “He doesn’t see my MS as a problem – he says my ‘wobbling’ is my trademark, that I wouldn’t be his mum without it.”

She pauses. “I was very clear about one thing when I realised this was going to change my life. I didn’t want Elliot to be the boy with a mum in hospital, or lying in bed all day,” she says, firmly.

“I wanted to be the mum cheering him on at the side of the football pitch, supporting him at school events, going along to parents’ nights.

“My journey to live a ‘normal’ life has been driven by him, and I think I have achieved it.”

If life has changed for Patricia, she refuses to be downbeat about it.

“Of course it’s hard sometimes and often, it’s little things that get to me, like not being able to wear high heels any more when I really, really love shoes,” she laughs, softly.

“But I’ve learned that yes, stuff happens, but it’s how you deal with it that counts. MS is not the end of the world – you might have to live a different life, but it can still be a good life.”

Born Together, published by Matador, is available at www.patriciagachagan.com, or www.troubador.co.uk