When an MS relapse left Jenny with numb feet and legs, unable to walk in a straight line, she wondered whether her running days were over.
Five years later and she has just completed a half marathon in Bournemouth. Here she tells us why she wanted to take on this challenge.
I'm 47 and live in Dorset with my husband Steve and our two teenage children. Living by the sea we've always been an active, outdoorsy family and we regularly train with a local surf lifesaving club. I've been a keen runner for many years and in April 2012 completed the London Marathon. Two months later I suffered a massive relapse which eventually led to a diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.
Learning more about MS
We'd been familiar with MS (Steve's dad had it) but hadn't realised just how complicated and variable a condition it could be. I'd been having a few health problems over the years–double vision, pins and needles–but these had always been shrugged off as a mystery virus or sporting injury. It's pretty clear now that these were relapses.
Summer 2012 was spent mostly on the sofa watching the Olympics and the Paralympics, wondering if I'd ever get back to normal. I struggled to walk in a straight line, my legs and feet were numb, I was completely drained of energy.
I used the MS Trust's website to learn more about my condition and to research the various treatment options my consultant had talked about.
Starting a new treatment
In January 2013 I started Tysabri–I'm still on it now. It's been brilliant for me. My symptoms gradually settled down over the years, I've had no further relapses and my MS is currently stable. I've taken up yoga and pilates to help my balance issues and I still enjoy swimming and running when I have the energy. Fatigue is my biggest issue but I've learnt to pace myself and not feel guilty about the occasional duvet day–I'm much better at saying 'no' to things instead of cramming too much into my time.
I find the MS Trust Facebook page really useful for keeping up to date with the latest MS news, especially when it comes to research and development of treatments. I'm always reading about various fundraising challenges and so I felt inspired to run the Bournemouth Half Marathon this year, raising £445 for the MS Trust.
It was a lovely day with beautiful views across the sea and the atmosphere and support along the route were fantastic. I wasn't quite firing on all cylinders so I was a bit slower than normal but I'm really happy that I made it to the finish line. I think my first words to Steve were "never again, that was too hard!" but a week later I was feeling back to normal and have kept my running vest neatly folded in my drawer, just in case!
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