GUEST BLOG ::                                                                                       Catherine, Tyrone, Ireland

My name is Catherine, I am 27 years old from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland.  I got diagnosed with MS two years ago. My lifestyle before my diagnosis was not great to say the least. I used to work full time in my home town. When I was not behind the bar I was perched on the other side of it. I would be constantly on the go whether it was with work or going out with friends. From around Christmas 2011 I found myself always feeling exhausted leaving work. By March I had severe pain in my back, sides and sharp stabbing pains across my chest. which lead me to believe I was having a heart attack.
The following week after the pains had started; I began losing the power of my right arm and leg. I also had pins and needles down my whole right side and had black lines in my vision. I continued to work until I physically couldn't do it anymore. I just kept telling myself it would all go away. It never did.

I was rushed to hospital where they proceeded to do tests, scans and more tests. Three days later I got transferred to the Royal Hospital in Belfast where they continued to do more tests and scans. After two weeks I met with a consultant who said she thought it was either a virus or Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was wanting it to be a virus, but when I next met with my consultant I got told it was highly active MS. My world shattered and I began to cry. I had all these images of me not being able to walk, talk or be fit to do anything, flash through my brain.  My parents, family and friends where so supportive! I will never be able to repay them and will forever be grateful to them for that. They kept telling me “everyone has a cross to bare, this is just yours."

So that was my motto! After months of physio I got the power of my arm and leg back, not too 100% but that's good enough for me. I totally changed my lifestyle. I quit smoking and began a healthier way of life. On all the websites and books, they all said to eat healthy and to exercise. So I did just that. I made sure to eat my five a day and plenty of protein. Cooking healthy meals and going for the lower fat options.  I started to go for walks every day. I started off small and have built myself up to a 3 mile walk every day. I started losing weight and began to build my strength up gradually. Besides having MS I have never been healthier.

I started going out again! My best friend Laura is amazing! She has encouraged me to do things I never thought were possible again, like travelling and going to concerts! She was also a great support, when i was crying my eyes out; she is always there to listen. Even if it is over something stupid. I started dating again, with someone I had always liked for years before I got sick. Lying in that hospital bed I would never have thought that he would ask me out once he found out about my MS. He did. We have now been going out for two years.

Apart from my family and friends he's has been my rock, and I fall in love with him more and more every day. When I am with him I don't feel like I have MS!
I am now on Tysabri,  it is a treatment I get every four weeks, which is administered by infusion. I have made great friends with the other people who are on the treatment and I look forward to catching up with them. The treatment is done over two hours. So it gives us plenty of time to have a cup of tea and the chance to talk to someone who can understand what you are actually going through.

If someone were to say to me 'you can go back to your old lifestyle and or have your life now! Which do you choose?' I would have to choose my life now. I see my MS as a blessing. Ok it's not all roses but nothing ever is.

Everyone has a cross to bear! I am proud to say MS IS MINE!

Catherine is a true example of an inspirational champion who is winning her MS battle.  Like me she reckons the MS has made her stronger.  Well done Catherine #AttitudeIsEverything

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