Gail from Elgin shares her story of being a mum and how she manages her relapsing MS.
I’ve always loved kids and wanted kids. I was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2001 and had a really bad relapse. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t drive, had optic neuritis. My husband and I just married the previous year. We discussed whether or not we should have children.
My GP said to me right from the word go: your MS isn’t a reason not to have children. But my relapse meant I was very unwell and there was a lot to think about. Because my husband is a farmer, I have to do a lot on my own – he works seven day a week.
My experience of pregnancy
I started on beta interferon but stopped when I wanted to get pregnant. Then I relapsed and couldn’t walk again. I discussed it with my doctor and we agreed I could stay on the medication until I got pregnant and then come off it – with the hope that pregnancy hormones would have a positive effect.
This is what I did, and now I have Leah, aged 13 and Liam, aged 10. My experiences of pregnancy with both of them was better than we could have expected. I needed some steroids after they were born, but I haven’t had a major relapse since having my children.
How MS is part of our lives
MS is part of my life and the kids know it’s there. They know at one point in my life I couldn’t walk but they’ve never seen that first-hand. Now, the main impact MS has is on my bladder and they know I self-cathertise (I also get Botox once a year). It’s just something I do and they accept it’s part of my life.
For the last four years I’ve taken a tablet DMT, but when I was taking beta interferon I was injecting and they had questions about the injections. I think it’s important to be open with them.
I keep really well, but I can’t do some things. I’d love to go on a cycle ride with the kids but I don’t ride bikes because my balance is funny. However I took up running a few years ago and they’ll take their bikes out and I’ll run. They stop at a certain point and wait for me to catch up. That way they get some exercise and gee me on to get out as well! They’re very encouraging.
What helps me manage MS and being a mum
My tips for other parents with MS would be take your naps when you need them, take it easy and rest when you need to. There’s no point in overdoing it and making yourself worse. Try and be organised, and take any help that’s offered!
My working hours help me – I work 9 to 3 Monday to Friday as a classroom assistant, so I benefit from the shorter hours and the school holidays. I’m home at a decent time and we get tea on the go and have time for homework. The hours benefit my MS as well.
Making memories together
I love babies but I’m enjoying this time now the kids are older. We can have conversations, have a lot of good times and make a lot of good memories. I don’t know what will happen in the future, so making memories is really important to me.
Last week there was a local spring show where we were showing a bull from our farm. We all took the day off work and school to go to the show with my husband. Our bull took second prize in his class and then went on to become reserve champion for our breed. It was an amazing day! I love doing stuff like that together.