I chose to do a skydive to raise money for the MS Trust, not because it was a wonderfully charitable thing to do, but because I was experiencing a phase of “I can do anything, bring it on”. Needless to say, that phase did not last and when it came around to actually doing the skydive, I was very much regretting my decision.
Living with MS
I was diagnosed with MS in 2012 after several instances of suspected minor strokes. I started a disease modifying treatment in August 2015 but suffered the most severe relapse of my life on Christmas Day of the same year. During the usual Christmas Eve rounds I was struggling to hold my wine glass. Thinking that I was merely less capable of tolerating alcohol than I had been in the past, I dismissed it. I then noticed my leg was heavy when walking to the toilet and decided it was time to go home and sleep it off. I woke at 1am, completely paralysed on my right-hand side. It took several months of hard work, determination and physiotherapy to regain strength and ability back in my right leg and right arm but during this time, I still managed to complete my first year of university studies.
A whole new mindset
In May 2016, I began a new annual treatment and had the last course in May 2017. I had mentally prepared myself for how weak I would be after treatment but still found myself in a whole new mindset, convincing myself I could do anything. It was at this point that I considered doing a skydive. When I returned home, I noticed the advertisement on the MS Trust Facebook page for Jump in June. Having thought about a skydive and then seeing it on the MS Trust site, I immediately thought this was the perfect fit. The perfect opportunity to pay back for the help and care I had received, whilst feeding my new-found need for adrenaline.
Overcoming my nerves
I booked the jump and after it had been postponed due to bad weather three times, I was beginning to feel less excited and more apprehensive. The fun-loving, thrill-seeking Jen that had surfaced during treatment had disappeared and the sofa loving, comfort bug was not happy about jumping out of a plane. Nevertheless, it was for charity and so I told myself the whole time ‘there is nothing scary about driving the car, there is nothing scary about filling in the form, there is nothing scary about putting on the overalls....”. I convinced myself that the only justified time for fear was the 5 seconds sat on the edge of the plane’s doorway, and that’s how I made it through.
I am so glad I did the jump now, it feels unreal, like it never really happened. I’m so glad I have something I can show my children and say “if I can put my mind to that, after everything else we’ve been through, you can do anything you put your minds to”. I will not be signing up for any more skydives but for anyone that has never done it, I can only advise that there is not anything to fear and it is an unreal experience that everybody should have at least once in their lives. And whilst you’re at it, you can raise money for a great cause too!