Locked-in Syndrome man remembered for resilience


Former East London teacher Roger Foster died on Monday, aged 60, after having lived with a rare neurological disorder known as Locked-in Syndrome for almost six years.
Foster was an English teacher at John Bisseker for more than 30 years before a stroke on the brain stem left him paralysed in January 2013.
Foster had cognitive ability and was completely conscious, but could only express himself by blinking or moving his eyes, the only muscles that were not left in a state of paralysis.
According to Foster’s sister, Dr Lesley-Ann Foster, who is the executive director of Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, he was the only living person with Locked-In Syndrome in South Africa.
“We got a call a while ago from the SABC, which wanted to do a documentary on him.
“To have lived with this disorder for so long is amazing and it is really all because of the excellent care his wife gave him,” said Lesley-Ann.
She said Foster was healthy when he died in his sleep in the early hours of Monday after what was believed to be another stroke.
Foster is survived by his seven-year-old son and his wife Claudine, as well as four sons from his first marriage and two stepchildren.
“It’s been very tough on all of us and his little boy is very sad, but I remember Roger being so happy in the last month. He became very invested in his faith and had a spiritual awakening. I remember him saying to me that having this disorder was the best thing that happened to him. He was very resilient,” said Lesley-Ann.
Taking on the role of wife, mother and carer meant Claudine had to give her husband 24-hour care. She said the first two years were the most difficult. “The fact that he was still alive is what gave me a boost every day and even though it was difficult, it was a joy to be his wife and his carer,” said Claudine.
Despite being unable to express himself with movement or speech, Foster is remembered as a vibrant, happy and charismatic man by his family.
“He faced tremendous difficulties each and every day, but amid all of the challenges he was always a happy, vibrant person,” said Claudine.
Lesley-Ann said that Foster retained his humour and never failed to pick out his family’s English grammar errors.
“He was so funny and he never stopped correcting us and our bad grammar.
“He was a huge intellectual and always kept up with the news and conversations,” said Lesley-Ann.
“At the end he was in a good space. He was completely at peace, and as tough as it is, knowing that has helped us through this,” said Claudine...

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