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Laughter, legs and MS

Posted on: December 20 2021

Hello, every one. I’ll introduce myself to you and then I’ll tell you my story.  I’m Cathy. I’m huge - all of 5 foot - not forgetting half an inch more. My husband James is a well-built six foot two.

Reading this you also need to know a couple of other things. Firstly, as a child I loved and greedily practiced gymnastics and ballet. So I had really good balance.  Secondly, our family; James, our three (now grown up) children and I enjoyed, and thankfully still do, nothing more than a good laugh whenever we were together.

One day in the run-up to Christmas I was shopping in my local town, Staines (Middlesex), with James. We needed to cross a busy road so made our way to the pedestrian island in the middle, along with several other shoppers. By this time, although I could still walk perfectly normally, the as yet unidentified malevolent force which is MS had caused my balance to go to pot. James was holding on to me as he was wont to do because of this chronic lack of balance, ensuring that I didn’t fall into the road. Anyway, there was absolutely nothing unusual or untoward going on but when we were in mid-stream, as it were, waiting to cross to the other side of the High Street, I can’t for the life of me remember what James said to me, more’s the pity, but it made me laugh. 

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Something which I should have said earlier, perhaps, is that when I laugh, oft times it triggers a laughing fit. The more I laugh, the funnier whatever it is that has set me off seems. I end up convulsed, sometimes to the point of near hysteria. Nothing unusual in that you may be thinking, it may well happen to you on occasion. I suppose it must have been something to do with my MS, but by this stage laughter like that would also cause my legs to cease to work. Anything but normal. Even a good chuckle was the trigger for my legs to give out on me.

What a spectacle

Picture the scene: a busy suburban high street choc-a-bloc with Christmas shoppers and there, on a traffic island in the middle of the road, is a woman holding on to a man for dear life with her legs visibly giving way and all the while laughing uncontrollably. What would you be thinking confronted by the spectacle? The more I laughed, the further people moved away from me, careful to avoid any eye contact. As soon as the traffic permitted, they made a hasty getaway, scurrying without a backward glance, leaving my husband and me alone.  By this time I’d set him off in fits of laughter too! Seeing people in full flight had not the slightest sobering effect, the two of us were well and truly in a laugh-enraptured world of our own. We just had to let the laughter run its course to the point where we could gather our senses sufficient to be able walk to the other side of the road, me holding on to James as if my life depended on it. Even then there were still a few residual chuckles.                               

Later, when I reflected on what had happened, I wondered what other people had made of it all. There were two obvious possibilities as far as I could see. Either they thought I’d been at the Christmas sherry, or I was nuttier than anything in Christmas box of chocs.          

Being conscious that my balance was, and is, on a par with a toddler taking its first steps counts for little in terms of warding off such incidents. Years after my Christmas shopping performance, our children were with us at home so I needed  to open a room divider sliding door. It was something I’d done hundreds of times before. I started to slide one door, lost my balance, and promptly toppled over, landing with anything but the grace of the ballerina which I had once dreamt of being. I hit the ground with a dull thud, in a heap, visibly none the worse for wear. Cue for family to double up in hoots of laughter, me too from my temporarily prostrate position on the floor.     

There have been many MS driven incidents since then and all we can do is laugh.  As you say Nigel, MS is a funny thing (sometimes).

The Thomas Jumpers Paint the Sky Purple for MS-UK

Posted on: December 16 2021

Louise Thomas has been a fantastic supporter of MS-UK for many years. Each Christmas, she hosted her annual David ‘Teddy‘ Thomas Champions’ Lunch, to raise money for MS-UK. She co-founded this event with her late husband, England cricketer, David Thomas - who was diagnosed with MS at the age of 29. Lousie Thomas 3.jpg

David particularly liked MS-UK as a charity because of the way that they related to people with MS, and their families - by treating them as individuals, and by empowering them with knowledge and shared experiences, to enable them to live their best lives. MS is an extremely challenging condition, so positivity plays an enormous part in helping to get people through every day. Louise continued to host their annual Lunch Club in support of MS-UK until 2017. She was extremely sad to have to stop running this event, as it was very special, and a huge part of her life. She still thinks of it every year on the first Friday in December when the event would have taken place, and desperately misses the love and camaraderie that always filled the room.

Louise promised she would continue to support MS-UK beyond the Lunch Club, and this October, she persuaded five friends to join her in a skydive adventure and paint the skies purple for MS-UK. This was no mean feat for Louise, who was petrified of heights before taking on the mighty challenge of jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet.

Here is a round-up of their big day…

‘The day was amazing. Cold and frost lay all around, but the sun was out, and we had clear blue skies. The Thomas Jumpers all checked in and went for a skydive tutorial to learn the dos and don’ts. Ryan shared words of wisdom such as, ‘If you’re one of those people who are convinced your parachute is not going to come out, I am afraid you are going to be bitterly disappointed!’ and ‘If, suddenly everything goes dark, open your eyes. It’s so much more fun when you can see what you’re doing!’. These words were not only very true, but they helped to put us at our ease. The enthusiasm and joy in the faces of the veteran jumpers was infectious. We were all buzzing!!

The sun was shining over Nottingham and at 14.000 ft, the views were spectacular. From this height, we had almost a full minute of free fall, (at approx 120 mph) before the parachute deployed. It was an unbelievable experience. After landing, we all had the biggest grins on our faces! What a thrill! Big shout out to Ryan and Emily the instructors, Kayleigh and Gary the photographers, and all at Skydive Langar for being so inspiring and such fun.

We want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all our friends and sponsors, who donated so generously and helped us to raise £4,700 for MS-UK. Your donations and support meant the world to us. We are truly grateful.'

How MS effects eyesight

Posted on: December 07 2021

Our eyesight is the most vital of human senses. Being a sensory organ, the human eye gathers information from the environment that surrounds us, with this information then transferred to our brains by the optic nerve. The result of this complex process being the gift of sight. Unfortunately, our eyes can be susceptible to attack from diseases which can cause impaired vision and ultimately loss of sight. iStock-904246150_0.jpg

Many people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) experience problems with their vision and in some cases these visual symptoms are the first indicator of the disease. It therefore follows that being aware of the most common visual symptoms associated with MS is paramount, as it helps us to identify potential issues that require attention and in turn take the necessary steps to ensure we receive appropriate medical attention.

Our recently revised Visual Symtoms Choices booklet provides easy to digest information about the three most common visual disorders that affect people with MS. These are Optic Neuritis, Diplopia which is also known as double vision and Nystagmus. Within this booklet we explain what causes each of these symptoms, how each one can be identified and explore potential treatments.  

Did you also know that eye health can be reinforced by ensuring you consume key vitamins and antioxidants? Our booklet also provides evidence backed advice detailing the foods and supplements you should consume to give your eyes the protection they deserve. Maintaining your vitamin D levels is important for everyone, but especially for those with MS. Vitamin D also contributes to good eye health, and you can learn about the links between vitamin D and MS in the latest edition of the Choices booklet here

You can download or view online our updated Visual Symptoms Choices booklet by clicking here. Alternatively, should you prefer a hard copy these can be obtained via our online order form.


How easy is it to get life insurance when you have MS?

Posted on: December 06 2021

When it comes to protecting yourself and the ones you love by getting life insurance, it can seem like a daunting task. From understanding what cover you can get, the details of that cover and any small print relating to existing conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). It doesn’t have to become a difficult task, and iam|INSURED provide life insurance cover for people living with MS, to give you peace of mind when it matters most.


Myth busting with iam|INSURED

Can people with MS get life cover?

Yes, it’s often a lot more straightforward for people with MS to get life insurance than you might think, especially when you speak to an MS specialist. There are now some life insurance companies who provide cover for people with medical conditions like MS and other neurological conditions.

How much is life insurance for someone with MS?

It depends on how old you are, how much cover you need, how long your cover term is, and the severity of symptoms of your MS. You can save a considerable amount of money and time by applying for life cover with the right insurer, and this is the job of your insurance advisor.

What if I have been declined life insurance because of my MS?

It’s not usually a problem to get life cover for people with MS, even if you’ve been refused in the past, so it’s definitely worth asking the question. There are also specialist policies that are available for people who have more severe symptoms.

Who are iam|INSURED?

The team at iam|INSURED have over 20 years’ worth of expertise in providing life insurance cover for people with long-term medical conditions, such as MS.

Their team of friendly, knowledgeable experts have helped to protect thousands of families, and currently has hundreds of five star customer reviews on Feefo. It’s insurance partners include some of the most reputable and well-known brands, including AIG, Aviva, Beagle Street, Canada Life, Legal & General, Royal London, Zurich, and many more.

“Brilliant customer service throughout arranging life insurance after being diagnosed with MS. Mark was great [at] keeping in touch and also with any questions I [had]” – iam|INSURED customer

Life insurance can be bought online with their unique new platform, which allows you to get a quote in a couple of minutes and then allows you to enter your medical information yourself. All your medical data is strictly private and will only be shared with the insurer that will offer cover for you.


Get your life insurance quote here

You can also speak to one of their team by calling free 0800 009 6559

How to identify a change of need

Posted on: December 01 2021

For many people with MS, recognising that help is needed with tasks that were previously easy can understandably be a huge emotional challenge. If you are finding that certain tasks are becoming increasingly difficult it may be time for a care needs assessment. iStock-1275350376.jpg

What does that mean?

Perhaps your ability to move about your home safely isn’t quite as it was, maybe you are now finding maintaining your home is becoming difficult and exacerbates your fatigue. You may be finding you need assistance with managing toileting, personal care, and dressing. These are all signs that may indicate you have a change of need.

An assessment should also consider things like

  • How you maintain relationships with family and friends
  • Your ability to take part in education, training, work, or volunteering
  • Your ability to participate in social activities and use of public transport
  • How you look after children you have responsibility for

If you have significant difficulties or problems with any of the above, it is likely that you will be given a support plan to meet your care needs.

Broadly the assessments will cover your support needs, your wellbeing, and the impact your disability has on your ability to care for yourself.

An assessment of need may have a variety of outcomes for you and care and support packages should look and feel different for everyone. It can be daunting, coming to terms with the fact support is needed, but social care packages should be personalised and tailored to your individual needs and when working well, can be life changing.

If you are offered a care and support package, you should have the opportunity to arrange and purchase your own care via a Personal Budget. This can be taken in the form of a ‘direct payment’. It may be helpful to read our Choices booklet on Personal Budgets as this goes into detail about how a direct payment can be used to meet your needs in the way that is best for you.

Please call our helpline if you feel you have a change of need, or to talk about how to identify those changes and how to make the first steps in getting an assessment. Our helpline can support you through the process. The MS-UK helpline is available Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. Please call 0800 783 0518, email or live webchat