Improving my wellbeing and living with purpose
From first symptoms to MS diagnosis
I was diagnosed with MS in 1994 after first noticing something might be wrong about a year before. I was working in a bakery, cutting rolls when my right hand went numb. I went to the doctors and they said I had a trapped nerve. I was given a brace to wear and the numbness went away.
But soon after that, I started tripping over and needing to sit down at work. I was sent to see a neurologist who, after a short stay in hospital, gave me the news that I had MS. He left the room, leaving me with a nurse. Even though at the time I didn’t know what MS was, I burst into tears.
I went back to work six weeks after being told I had MS. But I found being on my feet all day too physically demanding and so left my job and retrained in business administration. I worked part time until retiring in 1999 to focus more on managing my treatment.
Despite all the challenges of MS, I’ve been determined to stay positive. I missed working – and meeting and chatting to people - so I started volunteering part time in the shop at Southmead hospital in Bristol.
Looking after my dog, Ella, also gives me a huge sense of purpose. She’s my life – a reason to get up in the morning, to take her out. I’ve never had children so she’s like the child I never had. It’s somebody who needs me and I like the feeling of being needed.
A grant from the MS Society
I have limited mobility and use a wheelchair indoors and a scooter when out and about. In 2017 I went to Tenerife. At the hotel gym there was a standing frame for people with disabilities. After a second visit in April last year I decided to look in to getting a standing frame for my home.
They’re very expensive and can cost upwards of £3,000. But thanks to an MS Society grant of £2,000 and support from a business I was able to get one.
I feel very lucky to have my standing frame. I’ve had help from an MS Society grant before with an old mobility scooter they funded a few years ago. The grant scheme is wonderful. You can get a grant every three years if you have MS. You can apply for anything really – any sort of equipment that you might need to help assist you with your wellbeing.
Improved quality of lifeAs I can’t walk and stand anymore when I use the standing frame I can feel stretches and muscles being used that haven’t been used for ages. It also strengthens and improves circulation. It makes a huge difference to day to day life – doing small, everyday tasks has become much easier. I can see what’s at the top of the kitchen cupboards for the first time in years.
More than anything, it's the sense of wellbeing it gives me. It's not going to magically help me walk again but when I'm stood up there, it's like wow! Being able to get up to a standing position is just the most wonderful feeling.
This article originally appeared in the i newspaper.