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Guest blog: Pride and Gratitude

In this Guest Blog, Keith describes his wife Yvonne, who lives with multiple sclerosis. Yvonne attends the MS-UK Wellness Centre, Josephs Court, and has found it really beneficial for her personally over the past few months.

Pride and Gratitude

Mrs Yvonne Harris was born 23rd October 1963 in Burnley, Lancashire and relocated to Ipswich, Suffolk in 1989. Yvonne and I have been together for almost 30 years and this is a brief summary of some of what my lady has had to experience.

Yvonne was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November 2002 and was advised that she may have unknowingly been living with the condition for up to 12 years prior. From here on she endured relapses on average of once or twice a year which resulted in a gradual deterioration of her condition and general health. She suffered with constant chronic fatigue and lack of energy. Weakness, spasms and numbness in her legs and ankles at this time, restricted her ability to walk very short distances only and then only with the aid of sticks. Due to her lack of balance she was liable to stumble and fall at any time, anywhere and when she falls she requires assistance to get up again. Within our home furniture is strategically positioned to enable her to have many things to hold on to, to help her get about.

Throughout Yvonne’s illness she has had to cope with diminishing eyesight, optic neuritis, migraines, vertigo, double vision and partial colour blindness. She has difficulty holding onto cups, plates, saucepans and cooking utensils as she is unable to grip or carry things.

In October 2011 she was admitted as an emergency into Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust intensive care unit after suddenly suffering five epileptic seizures (brought on by the MS) each lasting 5-10 minutes within one hour. For the first two days she was kept under sedation and to this day cannot remember any of the events that took place during that period of time. Upon returning home it was noticeable that there was a further significant deterioration in her overall ability.

Upon her return to work at a large company it was obvious that she was no longer able to offer her services to the high standard that she wished to maintain and Yvonne reluctantly retired through ill health in May 2013. Since taking retirement her condition continued to slowly deteriorate and she became almost constantly reliant upon a wheelchair. The secondary progressive stage of multiple sclerosis was also confirmed.

Her diplopia (double vision) is now almost a permanent problem and it seems that there is very little else that can be done to help her. She constantly struggles with cognitive issues, dysphasia, dysarthria (disorders of speech and language), concentration and short term memory loss. I have to remind her daily to take her medication at the correct times throughout the day and I assist her at all times with whatever is needed. I also cater for all the daily chores of running the household.

In February this year a friend of ours passed us details of Josephs Court and said it might be worthwhile taking a look. We did and we have been attending sessions twice a week ever since and the progress has been amazing.

Sessions of cycling backwards and forwards, arm strengthening routines along with exercises within the parallel bars have obviously done the trick. Because of the teams’ encouragement, support, knowledge, passion and endeavour, Yvonne is now able to stand and sit on her own unaided and is even able to walk a few paces on her own – something we thought was not likely to happen again.

We can only pass on our grateful thanks to Brendan, Allan, Mike, Vicky and the rest of the MS-UK team for all they have done to make our lives that much better.

I am also very proud of my wife for her positive fun attitude and tremendous physical effort given throughout. I know it’s not been easy and there’s still quite a way to go but what a great start!!!

Multiple sclerosis affects everyone differently, and it’s important to remember that Yvonne’s progress is unique to her. You can find out more about the general benefits of exercise by visiting the MS-UK website and reading our Choices leaflet.

If you would like to discuss anything relating to MS, you can speak with our trained advisors on the MS-UK Helpline by calling 0800 783 0518 or by chatting with us on our live web chat.

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