|“I was a professional basketball player until my late 20’s, after which I took what I learnt in my basketball career and dove into a successful corporate career in sales and marketing.
I had it all figured out. Or so I thought!”
It was 2014 when Josh moved into a new home. He attempted to piece together a desk on a warm Sunday, thinking as this was an uncomplicated construction, he would be done in 20 minutes. Three hours later, he was still sitting on the floor, exhausted, unable to stand, overheated and numb. His new desk was 99% constructed. After resting, he attempted a 50-metre walk and fell.
“Unbeknownst to me, MS had decided it was time to fully introduce itself into my world,” said Josh.
In March 2015 at the age of 36, Josh was officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When he looks back, he had experienced a trail of symptoms that came and went such as fatigue, numbness and loss of balance. Josh attributes the building of the desk as a beacon of hope he says, “It reminds me that with persistence, hard work and a resilient attitude, I can own and manage my MS.”
Josh recalls driving home that day with the diagnosis weighing heavily on his mind.
“The victim mentality kicked in with thoughts such as; ‘Will my life ever be the same again?’ and ‘Why me?’ Suddenly, a gentleman (let’s call him Bob), appeared on the path in front of me. He had the biggest smile on his face, and he was in a wheelchair with his legs amputated at the knees. I was instantly shaken out of the dark place my mind was entering. I thought, ‘If Bob can smile, for sure I too can find the brightness in the dark.’”
With this new mindset, Josh set out to utilise health, diet, mindfulness, exercise and lifestyle changes to manage his condition. It is now five years since his diagnosis, and he says he is fitter and healthier in body and mind than ever before.
When Josh was first diagnosed in 2015, a nurse at St Vincent hospital recommended MS services and suggested he visit the www.ms.org.au website.
“At the time, being newly diagnosed with MS this was probably the best advice I was given. The website was great as it was unobtrusive, and I could take my own time to get comfortable with what they offered and more importantly to realise I was not alone in this fight.”
The website is one of many sources of information and support available to Josh and the 25,000 Australians living with multiple sclerosis. The funds raised through the MS Walk Run + Roll enable support services for people living with multiple sclerosis to access our free helpline, specialist advice from qualified social workers and nurses, and peer support groups in person and by phone.
Josh highlights the importance of these services to the people close to those living with multiple sclerosis.
Josh was recommended MS services through a nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital after he was diagnosed in March 2015, suggesting he visit the www.ms.org.au website.
“At the time, being newly diagnosed with MS this was probably the best advice I was given. I had a million questions and this gave me a great starting point. The website was great as it was unobtrusive, and I could take my own time to get comfortable with what they offered and, more importantly, to realise I was not alone in this fight. I found MS to be a wonderful organisation, where its sole purpose is to help people who are in my situation.”
MS provides support to people living with multiple sclerosis, for Josh this was through education answering his initial questions about MS was, offering Josh the reassurance he was not alone.
“Here was a group of people who not only had a wealth of knowledge and experience with MS but could also answer any questions I had or if they did not know the answer were willing to find out for me or refer me to someone who did.”
Referral to a Physiotherapist
A big part of MS recovery for Josh was physical rehabilitation. He had lost the use of his right leg and hand and knew that it was going to take some hard work to get movement back. He had overcome feelings of overwhelm and felt gratitude for the support he had received to get him ready to return to work.
The team at MS referred him to a Neuro-Pilates instructor, who he ended up hiring and working with every week for six months to get his mobility back. Josh regarded this as one of the most important steps he took toward recovery and living well today.
“I don’t think I would have found this type of help without the team at MS”.
Each person’s experience with MS is unique, where MS symptoms can vary from person to person. Josh discovered that managing his MS symptoms was something to be learned over time. He explained that when he was newly diagnosed, it was a very scary time, and he felt appreciative of the guidance he was provided.
“Probably the best thing I did was contact my trusty lifeline, the team at MS and ask their advice. They understood straight away that everyone with multiple sclerosis is different, so their advice on symptom management practice was suited to me. They encouraged me to explore my own ways of dealing with symptoms in a safe and uplifting way.”
Connection with others
Josh found connecting with others to be one of the best ways to practice self-care. Telling his story to other people living with MS and, in turn, hearing their stories has been both inspirational and educational for Josh.
“I found MS Limited was more than happy to introduce him to people I could connect with but I also find it great just to browse through the website and read about other people’s stories and what they are doing,” said Josh.
A place to point others
Josh has also found value in directing his friends and family, affected by his experience of multiple sclerosis or seeking information, to MS for support.
“I am really lucky to have a great support network, and they can visit the MS website to educate themselves about multiple sclerosis and learn what things they can do to help,” Josh says.
There are many other services MS provides to people living with multiple sclerosis, such as guiding people through the NDIS process, connecting people to Allied Health Support like nurses, social workers and occupational therapists, Wellbeing Support programs, peer support groups and the helpline MS Connect.
As Josh says, “If you are newly diagnosed or maybe have had multiple sclerosis for a while and are in a bit of a rut, I strongly suggest you reach out to the awesome team at MS honestly the worst thing that can happen is a they help you a little bit”
We are here, so no one has to face MS alone.