Michelle Hanley: living with MS
Neurology Michelle was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2015, before her 25th birthday. She had just returned to education, training as a hairdresser.
Michelle has two children, Abbey and Alex, and she describes the life-changing day of her diagnosis: “My GP said four words that changed my life forever, ‘Michelle, it’s Multiple Sclerosis’. I remember him trying to explain the diagnosis to me in simple terms. At that point I had no understanding of the diagnosis and worry set in, what about my kids? Will I be able to look after them? Will I be in a wheelchair?”
Some weeks later Michelle woke with numbness in the entire left side of her body. She spent a week in hospital under the neurology team and with the support of an MS Nurse. Through the weeks that passed afterwards she slowly began to recover and life returned to normal.
Two years later
Two difficult years passed under a haze of self pity with challenges to face around medications, new lesions and a mini relapse until one day, on waking, her first thought was ‘enough’: “I am not going to let MS take me without a fight”.
"Michelle’s self confidence was at an all time low."
She joined her local gym and started eating healthily. She instantly fell in love with how exercise made her feel: “I felt for the first time that I was in complete control of my body and had so much energy”. Michelle has now lost the two stone and is fitter and healthier than ever, “I’m always on the go, can’t sit still for a minute”, she says.
Information on MS, support services and the stories of other people living with MS have greatly helped Michelle. She has come a long way since her diagnosis and has completed a 10,000ft skydive, regularly attends musical festivals and gigs, runs around with her kids and helps fundraise for MS services in Ireland.
“A positive mind goes a long way in achieving a healthy body.”
Michelle also received the wonderful news last April that her new medication has resulted in a massive reduction in lesions and some had even disappeared. Michelle shows no signs of stopping and vows to continue exactly what she is doing while encouraging others to take the same path.
Listen to your body
Michelle’s advice to someone newly diagnosed with MS is, “Take your time. It’s ok to be scared, I was. Learn to listen to your body, when you feel tired, lie down. When you feel like flying, jump out of plane. Let MS empower you to do the things you think you now can’t do. Don’t think this is the end of your life, it’s merely the beginning of a new one.”
Multiple Sclerosis Ireland is the only national services, information and advocacy organisation supporting people with MS and their families.
More than 9,000 people are living with MS in Ireland, with thousands more family members affected. Multiple Sclerosis, meaning ‘many scars’, is the most common neurological disease of young adults in Ireland. MS affects the motor, sensory and cognitive functioning of the body and is usually diagnosed between 20 and 40 years of age. There is currently no known cause or cure for the condition. MS symptoms include impaired mobility and vision, severe fatigue and cognitive difficulties.
The 30th MS Readathon...
MS Ireland is inviting schools and home readers to sign up for the 30th MS Readathon sponsored reading campaign supporting vital services for people with MS. The reading month will take place from October 13th to November 13th 2017. Please visit www.msreadathon.ie to find out more.