I am 67 years old and I have had MS for over 30 years. I live with my husband who is nearly 80. Thankfully he is fit and well and between us we manage most things. He does the cooking and housework but I help with the dusting. I have been in a wheelchair for many years but can stand on a turning aid, with my husband’s help, to go to the toilet or get into bed or the car. However, my standing had been getting much worse and moving me from one place to another was getting very difficult for my husband.
A few months ago my family persuaded me to visit the physiotherapist to see if anything could be done about my standing. Wendy, the physio, gave me a really thorough assessment and then stood me in a standing frame. I felt so upright, it was lovely; in fact I cried the first time because it felt so nice to be up straight like I used to be. At first I couldn’t let go with my arms, but after a few weeks my back got stronger and I was able to let go of the handrails. Lately, I have been trying to hold myself up without the strap. It’s hard work but I can feel my back and tummy muscles working again. Now I can turn myself over in bed again which is a great help to my husband and it’s getting much easier to stand up at home. My aim is to be able to stand, just for a few minutes, when my son gets married in the autumn.
Before I saw a physiotherapist I had got into a terrible state with my MS. I was diagnosed ten years ago and had to give up work as a bricklayer. Giving up work is horrible for someone in their forties with a family to support.
I had been to my GP over the years with lots of different symptoms. Each time he had put me on another tablet. I started feeling so tired all the time that I just sat and watched TV all day. As time went by my balance got worse, so sitting down felt safer than walking. I felt absolutely useless and really depressed.
When I came to see Wendy she asked me about my symptoms and looked at all the tablets I was taking. She thought that some of them might be making me feel tired. She also told me that sitting down all day had probably made me weak as I was hardly ever using my balance muscles. The GP agreed to let her cut down the tablets and she also got me using my balance muscles again in an exercise class for a few weeks. I found it hard exercising at home, so I started doing jobs around the house and simple things like standing up from the chair without using my arms – something I couldn’t do when I started!
Coming off or reducing some of the tablets made a real difference to the tiredness levels and I found that the more active I was the better I felt. Now I have taken on a lot more jobs at home, which really helps the family, keeps me strong and feels great. I have also taken up fishing – great for the balance!