A CUMBRIA Police officer has spoken of his experiences living [and working with] Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
MS is a lifelong condition affecting the brain and spinal chord (and so, also, the body’s nervous system).
It spans/includes a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.
MS can sometimes cause serious disability, although it can occasionally be mild, and reduces life expectancy only slightly among most sufferers. It is also possible to treat its symptoms.
44-year-old, Mike Gale, has relapsing remitting MS, having been diagnosed with the condition in June 2019.
He says he had been experiencing symptoms for around 10 years and did not realise that what he was experiencing was MS.
His first symptom, picked up in 2011, was optic neuritis.
“At this point,” Mr Gale said, “nobody discussed or even mentioned MS to me.
“Around four years ago I suffered from what I now know to be foot drop; I had just taken up running to try to get a little fitter and my left foot started catching on the floor.
“I have always been clumsy so I just carried on like nothing was happening, although the running didn’t last long after that as I found it too hard and thought it was my lack of fitness. I had also been suffering with what I thought were other minor symptoms such as fatigue and tingling arms and legs.
“I put the tiredness down to having young children and the tingling I just ignored. It progressively got worse and, after a few visits to my GP, I was finally sent for an MRI scan where three lesions were found. I also had a lumber puncture to be certain of the diagnosis.”
Mr Gale said the MS diagnosis ‘did not come as a shock’ and that a ‘vast’ support network encompassing family, friends and the county’s police force has been key to his success in fighting the condition.
Mainly battling fatigue, he says: “I consider myself to be fortunate and just starting my MS journey. Ultimately I am going to own this condition, it’s going to be a long trek with lots of ups and downs but I will not let MS win, it’s not going to define me, it will not beat me!”