'My name is James Harrison. I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2014 following on from around two years of unexplained relapses in both physical and neurological difficulties. I put the relapses down to stress as I was working my first professional job and was put under an immense amount of pressure. This work stress lead me to change my job to something much less stressful, although still unaware I had an underlying condition.
'After having a relapse where I experienced the pins and needles, I got in touch with my GP to see what was happening. I had pushed the idea of MS to back of my mind and was sure it must be something else, something much less serious. This then triggered the need for an MRI scan to determine what sort of neurological activity was happening. Not long after the MRI scan I was called for a consultation and given the diagnosis of having relapsing remitting MS.
'After the diagnosis started to sink in I was hit with an immense amount frustration, confusion, uncertainty and depression. Thankfully though, I was engaged to a very loving and caring woman, who did everything possible to keep my spirits up in the weeks that followed my diagnosis. My fiancée came with me to my first appointment with my MS nurse who discussed medication options. I decided to take Rebif Interferon as this was an injection three times a week and seemed the best option. Getting used to being on the medication was a lot to adjust to. Not being afraid of taking injections three times a week was definitely a shock to the system. The aftereffects left me groggy and also left me with an increased appetite causing me to gain weight.
After only 6 months of being on the medication, I was moved on to Copaxone due to increased liver functions. This was an injection every day and took some getting used to and the injection sights were becoming more noticeable. About a year of being on the medication I found myself feeling I had control over my condition and moved myself back into a job role that would challenge me and offer future prospects.
From there it was life as normal leading up to my 30th birthday were I was able to cross off the head line of my bucket list, a skydive, which my wife surprised me with on the morning of my birthday!
It was the most exhilarating experience of my life and I came down a changed man as I felt 'if I can do that, I can do anything'! It was even more amazing to learn afterwards, my wife and family had secretly been raising money for MS UK. In the end we managed to raise £505.00. I have always wanted to raise money for MS but never got round to doing it, so having my birthday surprise double up as a sponsorship was a great idea. I learnt afterwards that my wife had not only been raising money but also awareness of MS, especially amongst her work colleagues.
Next for me and my wife is the news that we will be parents in December. This is something I have been waiting for my whole life and couldn’t be happier.
This will be another huge change for us both and will undoubtedly lead to some very tired times as well as many happy times. However, the place I am at with my MS, I know I will be able to manage any future changes and remain positive, and similarly with my condition whatever the outcome maybe.