By Belinda Rogers
I have been living with Multiple Sclerosis for nearly 20 years now and although it has been life changing, I’ve made sure it hasn’t been life destroying.
My life is happy and active, even though I am now a full-time wheelchair user. I find it is less the MS that restricts me and more the obstacles that our society throws in my way that makes my life difficult. With the right equipment and support and true accessibility in our communities there is very little that I can’t do and enjoy.
And this is where MS Australia does so much excellent work in supporting people living with the disease, their carers and supporters, and in doing amazing research into the disease. Without MS working tirelessly on our behalf educating and advocating for us, life would be much harder for me and all the many others living with MS.
I love swimming and heading to the beach for the day. With more and more beaches rolling out accessible wheelchair beach matting and having beach wheelchairs available for use, this is easier and easier for me to do.
Accessible Beaches Australia has a directory of beaches near you that wheelchair users and people living with mobility challenges can access.
With the right wheelchair I can go bushwalking and spend the day out and about exploring with my dog. I have a wheelchair modified vehicle so I can retain my independence and make the most of going to new places.
Just before Covid hit I was fortunate enough to win one of the MS Go For Gold Scholarships which enabled me to achieve a long held dream and do a self drive holiday for a month through the UK. And it was through the generosity of sponsors of the MS Mega Swim, amongst other fund raisers, that the Scholarship is made possible to so many of us each year.
MS hasn’t ruined my life, but it isn’t all adventures and excitement either. There are many days when I am laid low by crippling fatigue and pain, unable to move because of agonising muscle spasms or even unable to eat because of lancing facial nerve pain.
And there are the indignities of bladder problems as well to deal with. But again, MS Australia is invaluable in the support they offer with their MS Connect phone service. Any time you ring, you’re able to speak with a knowledgeable and compassionate person to guide you through the tougher times.
The MS Employment team is also available with excellent advice to help you navigate your rights at work and to help you keep working as long as you want to. I worked continuously from the time of diagnosis until retirement a couple of months ago.
Without the organisation behind me, the last twenty years would have been so much harder. But with MS working in partnership with me on my journey, living with the disease has been less devastating than it could have been.
Please, consider making a small (or not so small) donation to our MS Mega Swim fundraiser. Our club, Melbourne Open Water Swimming Club, is participating in the MS Mega Swim 18-19 February 2022 to raise $$ and awareness to assist people like Belinda who are living with MS.
Click through to our MS Mega Swim page and give a little so people with MS can fully participate in activities many people take for granted…