Ruth Cotton is well known to many in Newcastle for her huge body of local history work on the multicultural hub of Hamilton. Her Hidden Hamilton blog began as a way for her to find out more about the suburb she was moving to from northern NSW. Hundreds of stories and two books later, Ruth is still just as passionate about her adoptive home.
But Ruth has released a new book, a memoir called A Fragile Hold: Living with Multiple Sclerosis and other Uncertainties, which details her 1997 diagnosis with multiple sclerosis and the changes to her life from that point. In 2020, just as the pandemic locked us in our homes with huge uncertainty, Ruth’s husband became unwell.
From the book ...
When Ruth Cotton walked out of her neurologist’s office in 1997 with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, her life changed irrevocably. At the peak of her career and with three children still at home, all she could think of were the uncertainties – especially whether she’d become wheelchair-bound.
But Ruth continued her full, active life and it wasn’t until her retirement that multiple sclerosis exacted its greatest toll – slowly taking her balance and mobility. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic confined Ruth indoors, news came that her husband’s cancer – melanoma, diagnosed years before – was accelerating.
Overwhelmed by a sense of life’s fragility, Ruth turned to writing to make sense of it all. Giving close attention to her immediate environment, and recording what she sees, hears, and feels, a more mindful way of being and thinking unfolds. Ruth discovers her life need not be defined by what she can’t do, but by what she can. A Fragile Hold: Living with Multiple Sclerosis and other Uncertainties reveals with warmth and unflinching honesty the daily, intimate scenes of a life with multiple sclerosis.
Listen to Carol Duncan’s conversation with Ruth Cotton here: