How getting active helped me after my MS diagnosis

Fri 29 July 2022

Phoebe Day

Phoebe was scared of doing exercise at first. But with the help of Noodle the sausage dog she’s got her confidence back.

I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2020. My first symptoms were numbness and pins and needles in my hands and feet. My skull was crawling like someone was scraping my head. I went to my GP several times but wasn’t referred on. It got to the point where I was vomiting, I lost my eyesight, I couldn’t walk – I was bedbound. I was rushed to A&E where they did an MRI and lumbar puncture. And there was a lovely big glowing lesion on my brain.

Showing my life isn’t over

It’s important for me to raise awareness of MS. At first I thought my life was over. I had lots of questions, like will I need a wheelchair, can I have children?

I hope I’m able to help another terrified young woman who’s been diagnosed with MS see that they can still have a good life. It’s just a bit different.

Over the last two years, I’ve gone from being a divorced, newly diagnosed and terrified woman on her own to moving into a home with the love of my life, Charles. My new life may look different, but the adventures have just begun.

Getting active helps me keep happy

When I was diagnosed I felt locked away in my body and brain. I really struggled with fatigue at first and became scared of doing any exercise. I thought it would make me sicker.

Then I got Noodle. I started getting out and doing a few steps and then building that up over time. It’s helped with my confidence. I was so scared of going out and seeing people after my diagnosis. But with Noodle people want to talk to me about him and it’s no longer about my MS.

Exercise has opened up conversations with my family and friends. Going for walks with my family or swimming in the sea with my best friend Katie takes the focus away from MS. It allows us to just enjoy time together.

Being active has really unlocked things. It’s made me a lot happier which helps me manage my MS a lot better.  It definitely helps my fatigue and my mental health.

Finding the motivation

Keeping active doesn’t have to be in the gym or doing a sport. It can be dancing with your friends in fancy dress, having a good time.

On tough days, I have to really love an activity to motivate myself. Having a bouncy sausage dog doesn’t give me any excuse to not get out for a walk. Even on days when I’m struggling to walk very far I’ll find a bench and let Noodle run around the field. Also the benefits to my mental health with things like swimming in the sea have really changed my outlook.

I’d love more support

I was on a waiting list for 18 months for physiotherapy. Then it got cancelled because I had COVID-19. I’m back at the bottom of the list. One thing I’ve struggled to find is a personal trainer who knows MS or similar conditions and can help me train and achieve my goals. I'd love more support to get active.

As a child I learnt to ski and I’d love to do that again. I also really want to get back into strength training. I’d be chuffed if I could use kettle bells again. I want to feel strong and undefeatable – that I can do anything.

Getting involved in the We Are Undefeatable campaign

I’ve done it for the newly diagnosed terrified Phoebe. I really thought my life was over. I wasn’t familiar with MS and couldn’t see myself represented when I was learning more about MS.

I’m very much a knowledge is power kind of person. I hope by being involved I can raise awareness of MS. Even if that helps just one person it’ll be worth it.

I’m still navigating my diagnosis, and taking part has helped me to process what’s happened in the last few years. I want to show that many of us with MS are living full vibrant lives.

I’ve dealt with my MS a lot with humour. Having fun and keeping active has been so important to me. It’s a terrifying time at the start. But it’s going to be OK – it’s just about readjusting the goalposts.

Find ways to get active now