In 2002 I was like any other 17-year-old; loving life and enjoying going out with my friends. One morning I woke up with numb fingers on my left hand and a numb left foot. It was very strange but I put it down to sleeping awkwardly.
The next day, the numbness had developed into pins and needles in both of my legs and was very painful, so I went to see a GP. At the time my doctor was on annual leave so I saw a supply doctor and she said "As I don't know you very well, can you come back next week?" So naturally I thought “Okay, I guess it's nothing to worry about. . .”
But the next day I was in excruciating pain and needed urgent medical attention, so my Dad scooped me up and whisked me to hospital. Whilst there I had many examinations and was told that I needed to stay in overnight for observation – and this turned into a three week stay. I wasn’t told anything and was the youngest person on the ward, so naturally I was really worried and confused about everything. When I was six, my Mum passed away from cancer, so at one point I convinced myself that I had this too.
During my time in hospital, my body had completely deteriorated. I was unable to walk, feel, touch, feed myself, wash myself and I had no control over my bodily functions which was very embarrassing at 17. The time had finally arrived for me to be allowed to go home with my new zimmer frame, which made so many people look, point and laugh, but hey I didn’t care because I needed it. Many people who know me will tell you that I am a very positive person and I don’t let things get to me, but in all honesty, all of this is because my Mum is my biggest inspiration and no matter how much pain I go through, I am not dying, and I have a chance to live my life the best way possible, unlike she did.
"When I am low, feeling really sad and pretty useless, she gives me so much unconditional love "
For years my MS worsened then improved, but I just had to adjust to a life like this, having good days and bad days. Five years ago I decided to adopt a rescue dog and it was the best decision that I have ever made. My dog is called Kia and without her I don’t honestly think I would be where I am today - I probably would have given into my illness and refused to go out. Every day, regardless of how I am feeling, I have to go out and take her for a walk, so this alone benefits us both because we get some exercise. Even the little things like getting up out of my chair to go and feed Kia, brushing her, or giving her a toy to play with, help me because otherwise I would stiffen up from not moving.
When I am low, feeling really sad and pretty useless, she gives me so much unconditional love which always makes me feel better within myself. I know Kia won’t cure me but she makes every day that little bit better. I do not know where I would be without her and I am sure she feels the same about me. She was shipped over from Romania as she was found on the streets over there, and I personally feel that rescued dogs make the best pets because they are so very grateful for you giving them a better life.
Five years spent with my little lady and I owe her so much for getting me to where I am today.