Nick Tilsley (Ben Price) has been determined to support Leanne (Jane Danson) in Coronation Street following the discovery that Oliver Battersby has an incurable form of mitochondrial disease.
Leanne and Steve (Simon Gregson) took Oliver to see Dr. Ward (Zita Sattar) in order to have his feeding tube removed, but while there, they learned that the young boy had been diagnosed with the life-limiting condition.
In the wake of such a discovery, Nick has been by Leanne’s side every step of the way, but — given just how much he loves Oliver — he’s also struggling to come to terms with the devastating news, and feels isolated due to Oliver not being his own son.
Speaking about this, actor Ben Price said: ‘He recognises that for Leanne and Steve it is their child, Oliver is not Nick’s child.
‘I think he is upset as he stepped in when Steve couldn’t. He became that father figure but really when it comes down to these vital decisions in hospital he legally isn’t part of it and he’s on the periphery, he is not going to be able to make those decisions.
‘As it has gone on he thought he could handle it but actually it is getting harder for him. The fact is that suddenly now Steve is stepping up to the plate, Nick thinks “why is it always me that does all the leg work and then Steve or Peter swoop in when they feel like it?”
‘It is an exceptional circumstance and of course Steve has stepped in but he is not there for the day to day stuff.
‘For all of those reasons he is not really feeling part of it. He likes to have active decision making, where Nick gets comfort is making a decision and pushing through with it but he can’t.
‘He is in limbo trying to support her. He doesn’t feel like he is quite equipped to do that, what can he say? What can he do? He is feeling it isn’t fitting into the normal mode, he feels out of control, he doesn’t deal with that very well at all ‘
What is mitochondrial disease?
Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body (except red blood cells).
Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support organ function. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole organ systems begin to fail.
The parts of the body, such as the heart, brain, muscles and lungs, requiring the greatest amounts of energy are the most affected.
Symptoms vary depending on the organ(s) affected but may include seizures, atypical cerebral palsy, autistic features, developmental problems, fainting and temperature instability.
According to The Lily Foundation, the prognosis depends upon the severity of the disease and other criteria. As more research funds are raised to find more effective treatments and ultimately a cure, some of the affected children and adults are living fairly normal lives with mitochondrial disease.
In other cases, children may not be able to see, hear, talk or walk. Affected children may not survive beyond their teenage years. Adult onset can result in drastic changes from an active lifestyle to a debilitating ilness is a short amount of time.
Treatment plans vary from patient to patient but involve therapies, diet changes and other means to try and slow the progress of the disease.
You can find out more information from the NHS here.
Scenes this week have seen Leanne refuse to believe that Oliver’s diagnosis is definitive, and as a result, she and Nick have come to blows, as he attempts to help her come to terms with what’s happening.
Ben continued: ‘I also think that it is in some way to do with the fact that it isn’t his child, it is perhaps easier for him to step back, he is close but if it was his child would he be more like Leanne?
‘He and Tracy are more on the outside looking in. They love Oliver but they are more able to look at the bigger picture.
‘It is a very double edged sword in that he is able to step back but he wants to support Leanne and he doesn’t want her thinking he doesn’t care. He has to tread the line very carefully.
‘It is that thing of her piecing things together which actually don’t equal a recovery, a smile, a noise etc it is a piece of good news but it doesn’t mean a recovery, that is not what the doctors are saying.
‘The doctors are preparing them for the worst but hoping for the best and he is trying to manage his and Leanne’s feelings and not let her fall but his place is just to support her.
‘He feels he’s not massively equipped to deal with the breakdown when the worst happens, is he emotionally prepared for that and will he be up to it?’
Coronation Street continues Monday 6 July at 7:30pm on ITV.
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