MS Awareness Month
When I was in primary school I loved to read, so when my school decided to participate in the MS Readathon, I was in heaven! Not only was I encouraged to read, I could also be sponsored – how cool! It was a great incentive to raise money, but I still wasn’t aware what I was actually raising money for. All I understood is that I was raising money for a disease, something called Multiple Sclerosis and the colour red had something to do with it, but that’s all.
Fast forward 22 years and Multiple Sclerosis touches my life again, this time I was being diagnosed with the disease. I still knew very little about it, so I went on a fact-finding mission. Even in 2008 there was little information available, my only knowledge being the MS Readathon and a few famous people who had it and were both in wheelchairs.
This petrified me as I was running a business, I couldn’t be in a wheelchair! I lived in a house with stairs, I couldn’t be in a wheelchair! I had a life; I couldn’t be in a wheelchair! I then found out I wasn’t alone. In 2008 there were approximately 18,000 people with MS, by 2022 that number had increased to 25,600. 3 out of 4 diagnosed with MS are woman and the average age of diagnosis is between 20-40 years old; as one starts to live their life, have a family, a career.
One thing I discovered very early on is that MS is different for everyone, different therapies do definitely assist however the unpredictability of every day makes it very difficult to hold down a job, be part of a family or just simply live a normal life.
Recently my MS has progressed, meaning I have made it to that wheelchair I once fretted and I no longer own that business. I had to move from my house with stairs due to mobility, so it was now time to find a new place to call home.
I found a property, searching through hundreds of properties online that was classed as Fully Accessible. This meant there were grab bars in the huge bathroom, door frames which were wider, kitchen benches were lower for use in a wheelchair, but now my health needs have changed, and I must move to somewhere that suits me and my needs.
I stumbled across the NDIS SDA finder. This is the ‘realestate.com’ for SDA housing and it wasn’t easy to find (search for NDIS SDA in your browser). This search engine lists SDA properties available in all areas and all design categories. Finally, there was a website where I was able to do a search and filter it to suit my needs. I didn’t have to wade through pages of properties that weren’t ever going to suit me. The information about the properties was great. In one click you can see the location, type of building, how many bathrooms and even the maximum price per room. But best of all, it lists if there are vacancies.
So, I’ve now found my new home with Adapt Housing and I’m still forced to learn more about MS every day. It sometimes feels like this unpredictable passenger who’s in charge, however, it’s my choice to acknowledge it and not allow it to take over.
People with MS are often called warriors, this is because we go in to battle every day and source alternative ways to make life work for us.
Written by Dianne Gittins