Living with MS

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A Coleraine man has described his terror of temporarily losing his sight before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Alastair(46) was told he had Relapsing Remitting MS in 1999 at the age of 33. His symptoms included feeling unsteady when walking, balance problems and fatigue.

But his frightening experience began when he woke up one morning and his vision was very blurry. As the day went on his vision deteriorated and he was hospitalised for a week.

Eventually his sight returned but Alastair recalls: “Temporarily losing my sight was a terrifying ordeal.

“I had been experiencing various symptoms before this happened and it continued after that.

“Numerous doctors visits later I was eventually diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting MS, although I’m now considered borderline primary progressive.

Although the diagnosis was worrying, it was also a relief in many ways because it finally explained why I felt the way I did”.

Alastair is just one of many sufferers speaking out during Multiple Sclerosis Week about the illness.

A member of the MS Society Coleraine and District Branch Alastair explained: “Every day brings new challenges with MS and I have my good and bad days.

“The fatigue is the worst thing but I find that staying active helps me to fight back against my symptoms.

“I’ve joined my local MS Society branch and try to get involved in the support group and fundraising. I’m fighting back by taking part in weekly MS fitness classes.

“I really enjoy meeting up with other members and enjoyed a bit of banter as we exercise. It keeps me motivated and feeling positive. I also volunteer with my local MS Society branch helping with fundraising and recruiting new volunteers. It’s my way of fighting back against MS”.

If you live in the Coleraine area and would like support and advice about living with MS please contact Coleraine and District Branch MS Society on helpline 07759030699

MS: FACTS AND FIGURES

* Around 100,000 people in the UK are living with MS. In Northern Ireland, more than 4,000 people are affected by the neurological condition, one of the highest prevalence rates in the world.

* A poll of over 1,400 people with MS reveals as many as 42% of people with MS feel that, as a result of their condition, people often don’t consider them as equal, while almost one in three (30%) even say they have been visibly ignored because of their condition.

* More positively, many people with MS (41%) have found the condition has had a positive impact on relationships with their immediate family, almost half (49%) say it has led them to take up new hobbies and interests, and over a third (37%) of employed people with MS feel their condition does not impact on their work.