A novel approach

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2013
Michael Kyriazopoulos
DEFYING ODDS: Birkdale man Michael Kyriazopoulos, 38, has written a novel despite losing all mobility from motor neurone disease.

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New author Michael Kyriazopoulos, 38, has written a novel despite losing all mobility from motor neurone disease.

The Birkdale man was not even registered with a doctor when he was diagnosed with the disease in January.

Doctors warned the keen mountain biker and surfer he had just months to live.

Mr Kyriazopoulos set about fulfilling his long-held desire to write a novel soon after processing the gloomy prognosis.

Cloudy Sunday was released in paperback and in Kindle version on Amazon.

The fictional story follows a 21-year-old member of the Maori Battalion who finds himself separated from his unit in Greece during World War II.

Mr Kyriazopoulos has gradually lost the use of his legs, arms and his speech.

He is confined to a motorised wheelchair, unable to move and uses computer software prompted by his eye movements to communicate.

Rapid muscle degeneration from the disease forced Mr Kyriazopoulos to be crafty with his writing.

"For as long as I could hold a pen I wrote.

"Then I used a voice recorder on my mobile phone and dictation software on my computer. By the time I got to editing I had to dictate changes to my wife Jo.

"It was incredibly frustrating."

Fear that he would never get to see his work in print plagued him throughout the entire process, Mr Kyriazopoulos says.

"Nobody can give an estimate of how long you have, because of the nature of the disease everyone responds differently.

"I was elated to finally see it published."

Mr Kyriazopoulos who is of Greek heritage studied te reo at Unitec after realising there are many parallels between Maori and his own culture.

Constant fatigue, weakness in his arms and uncharacteristic clumsiness were the first signs something was wrong, wife Joanne Kyriazopoulos says.

A precautionary trip to the doctor turned into an overnight stint in hospital and dozens of painful tests, she says.

The results of a lumbar puncture, blood test, MRI and nerve exam confirmed the motor neurone disease (MND).

"We didn't even know what it was. I said to Mike, ‘is that what Stephen Hawking has?'," she says.

There is no known cause or cure for the condition that affects one in 15,000 New Zealanders.

Mr Kyriazopoulos says he may be pushing it to pen another novel but he continues to write articles for industry magazines and newsletters, including the monthly MND News.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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