The voice on the phone is slurred, as though the speaker is drunk. The words come painfully slow and are unclear.
Talking with Joost van der Westhuizen is a shock. You might think you’d know what to expect after watching a TV interview with the 42-year-old Bok hero the previous night, but it’s heartrending to hear his laboured words again.
“For me my voice is the worst,” he says, struggling to speak as a result of the motor neurone disease (MND) that’s breaking down his body. “Yesterday it was 100 per cent but today I’m tired from gym.”
The previous night it was moving to see him on the programme Carte Blanche: shaking, his feet dragging, the once-magnificent Bok scrumhalf now forced to bend down to the table to slurp his coffee, his hands too unsteady to lift a cup.
These days he’s fighting a battle on two fronts. There’s the struggle against his life-threatening disease. And, as he fights for every extra year to watch his children grow up, there’s also the immediate battle simply to be able to spend enough time with Jordan (8) and Kylie (6).
Read more of Danél Blaauw and Alet van Zyl’s interview with Joost in YOU 13 September 2012
Image courtesy of Carte Blanche