I met my long term partner Tarina nine years ago in hospital, she was recovering from an MS relapse and learning to walk again. I was a patient myself with an undiagnosed problem that left my legs like dead weights, a problem that I have not had again since I recovered. It was a very scary time for me as it occurred overnight, but every cloud has a silver lining.
Tarina was incredible. Despite everything she was still smiling and wheeling herself ward to ward for a chat when she was able to. She really helped me get through a tough time, as well as others. It didn’t hurt that she was gorgeous, truth be told I fell in love with her straight away. It wasn’t just her looks, she was everything I ever wanted in a woman – intelligent, funny and strong. I knew she would always challenge me and I would always want to make her happy. What more can any man want?
We became good friends and over time we became a couple and I have never been happier. While I have not had any problems since, the same cannot be said for my partner. It has been difficult at times and anyone who has experience of MS will know that it’s so unpredictable how you will be on any given day.
Striking a balance
As a partner it is difficult to strike a balance that’s supportive but not smothering, to be understanding but strong. For me the biggest thing was knowledge of what to expect and how to find this balance. I have gained a lot of knowledge through the MS Trust among other sources, like many I have learnt along the way.
Let’s face it, no one wants to be reminded of something difficult in their lives every day and constantly talk about it, especially when it’s with your partner as it can really strain a relationship from both sides. The need to gain knowledge and talk still needs to be fulfilled but a third party is the right option sometimes. Whatever your problems may be you need to enjoy your life and not constantly dwell on them, no prizes for guessing who taught me that one!
Giving something back
I never really got fit again after my time in hospital so this is a big challenge for me personally, which is the bit that is selfish in some respects. I have wanted to do something for a long time to give something back for the help we have had over the years. Now I have the capacity to do more I intend to.
I felt this was an appropriate event to do as it requires me to build and maintain both physical and mental strength and stamina, and fight my own body and mind into submission to do what I need it to even when it hurts (and it will). This is but a few months for me, but it is something I believe symbolizes what people with MS do every day and it is truly amazing.
While those of us who care about, live with or support anyone with MS will never truly understand how they feel, and I do not presume to, it’s important that we never stop listening, learning, trying and most importantly loving.
We all do charitable things in our own way and have different means to do so, even if every person who reads this donates a pound it will soon mount up and help ensure this support remains available and research continues. Please don’t let me dissuade you if you are able to be or feel more generous.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article and for your support, monetary or otherwise, as I am sure you will all wish me the best.