When a flare-up of Crohn’s disease threatened to thwart Michael Borg’s annual musical Christmas light display, a small army of volunteer elves stepped up to complete the job.
Growing up I always had abdominal pains and was always running to the toilet. As I’ve always been a bigger guy the doctors said it must be my diet, but my diet wasn’t that bad. I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 19. I presented myself to my doctor with these holes on my backside which I now know as fistulas.
Eventually the fistulas became so painful that I was unable to go to work. I’d tried all the drugs and had about a dozen operations. At the age of 23 I booked myself in for a colostomy.
It hasn’t been all doom and gloom. I’ve been living with Crohn’s for 11 years and have held my current job as a petro-chemical piping designer for 11 years. I have an advanced diploma in mechanical technology, owned my own home for four years and been happily married for two years. I’ve been overseas about 15 times since I was 17 and just recently learned that my wife and I will be expecting our first child in 2014.
Christmas at the Myrtle
It all started four years ago when my wife and I bought our house. Our first Christmas rolled by and we had a handful of Christmas lights in the front yard. The second year our display had grown to take over the yard, but it was just like all the homes.
“I thought, well if everyone is asking me if it’s for charity I might as well make it for one that’s close to me: Crohn’s & Colitis Australia.”
I hipped in some controllers from the USA, tested lots of lights and synchronised some songs. It attracted a lot of local attention, but people were confused. In order to hear the music you had to tune in your car radio to a radio station I have pre-programmed. People thought the station was a real radio station and I was doing it for a competition or a charity. About two weeks out from Christmas I thought, well if everyone is asking me if it’s for charity I might as well make it for one that’s close to me: Crohn’s & Colitis Australia.
In 2013 I decided to take it to a new level but mid-December I gave up on my show. Along with all the technical issues I had to deal with flare ups from my own Crohn’s disease. I just wasn’t physically well enough to do what needed to be done. Then a group of volunteers from AusChristmasLighting – guys I had never met but had spoken to online – volunteered to come over and finish the show off for me.
This is an edited excerpt of an article first published in Autumn 2014 Inside Insight