Keep moving… use it, exercise it, or you will lose it
Prior to being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), Karen Harris led a full and busy life – juggling her role as head chef in a nursery, being a hands-on mum to her young daughter and making and icing cakes for friends and family at the weekend. Her diagnosis and initial lack of understanding about the condition left her fearful for her future.
Here, Karen talks about the changes she has been through, how she has found ways to reduce her anxiety and the positives she has gained from attending the Chilterns MS Centre.
“My MS Nurse referred me to the Centre after my diagnosis, but I’d already heard about it from a friend with MS who had been successfully treated for years. That said, I was still very scared before I first came to the Centre. I was newly diagnosed and didn’t understand my symptoms or have anyone to talk to about it all. I was worried I would become very ill and lose my independence. It was new and scary and I felt like I had lost my old self.
At first I only came for physio once a week, but making new friends encouraged me to use the Centre a lot more – a whole lot more!
I am weighed weekly (at weight management), I’ve had physio, hydrotherapy (which has been brilliant for me), acupuncture and I’ve even tried oxygen therapy. I belong to the art group on Tuesdays and the wild craft group on Fridays.
The Centre has given me so much support and the therapies and treatments on offer have helped me get my life back. As well as that, having people to advise me on what to do when symptoms are bad, or to assist with PIP forms or official information is a great help.
The physio team has been amazing and hydrotherapy has helped with my mobility and eased the spasticity in my legs and body; acupuncture has helped with bladder issues; and the art group and craft group have given me a social life and new hobbies. Life was lonely before and I felt I had no direction so my mental health was affected, but talking with my new friends and finding something I enjoy has given me purpose.
The reality of living with MS means the symptoms are hard at times and when I am having difficulty with my mobility I feel scared. Losing my independence and having to rely on others to help are not easy for me, but my life would be so much worse if I didn’t have the Centre. I wouldn’t be as mobile or able to do what I’m now able to do around my house – I’m still able to clean my house, bake, take care of my daughter and I now make cards and do crafting.
There have been some positives since my diagnosis too. I now have more time to spend with my daughter and can help her with her homework. After a few difficult years with our relationship, my husband and I are closer than ever and we’ve learned how to communicate. I’ve also made some lovely new friends who are a great support.
I would advise anyone facing the same diagnosis as me to become a member of the Centre as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be open and talk to others who are dealing with neurological problems. Get help from the professionals at the Centre and use all of the treatments as they help greatly.
And lastly, keep moving… use it, exercise it, or you will lose it!
If you have MS and feel you would benefit from the services offered by the Centre, or you know someone who would then please get in touch by phoning 01296 696133 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org