Peter was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over 20 years ago and his mobility has been affected greatly by it. Before the pandemic, he was relying on his mobility scooter to get around and suffered from terrible pain in his back and legs for years because of his MS.
Peter takes a proactive approach to manage his symptoms himself and recognised the benefits of joining in with exercise classes when they first took place at the Centre a few years ago. The pandemic spurred him on to do, even more, starting with classes on Zoom at home, and more recently face-to-face classes at the Centre. This is Peter’s story.
I was taking up to 10 tablets a day to manage the nerve pain in my lower back. The pain was excruciating and made getting out of bed and going down the stairs really slow and difficult. I would scream out in pain every day doing it.
I have always done some of the exercise classes at the Centre, but normally only once a week. When the pandemic started and the Centre began to do a number of zoom exercise classes each week, I decided to join in. I didn’t have much else to do and joining in helped me to keep connected to the Centre and to my friends in it.
I have been doing several classes a week for over a year now. I have also started to come in for face-to-face classes too. These are much harder as Joe can see exactly what I am doing, or doing wrong, and can correct me. Since doing all of these, my back has strengthened and I am no longer in pain. I don’t take any pain relief and can get up and down the stairs more easily now.
This has had such an impact on my daily life. I can now get around on my walker rather than relying 100% on my mobility scooter. And when we go to the Garden Centre I can now sit at the table properly and join in with the conversation rather than sitting away from everyone on my scooter.
The Centre’s exercise classes form part of the physical therapies programme. Not only are they about keeping active, they also include rehabilitation techniques to help strengthen and restore function to different parts of the body. These used to be offered as occasional physio groups but have been integrated into regular classes so more people can benefit from them. Many members, including Peter, have benefitted from these without even realising they are doing their own supervised physio.
The exercise has also had other positive effects. My bladder control is so much better, so I can now go out and about without having to worry about it. I can also sleep a lot better too. The classes have also helped to restore some movement in my hand so I am able to use both hands to hold my cutlery and eat, albeit slowly.
I feel that with the Centre supporting me, I have taken control of some of my symptoms through exercise and have gained much more movement and independence this year.
We would like to thank the Edward Gostling Foundation, the February Foundation and the Moving Our Community Fund – a Leap/Sport England charitable fund held and managed by Heart of Bucks – for generous grants towards our exercise programme this year.