As they say, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. This statement couldn’t have had more relevance to my life if it tried!
I was 27 years old when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), working as a chef in a 5-star hotel and had recently moved from Canada to Western Australia with my wife Sharon, who is from the South West of Western Australia. I would have loved to continue working as a chef but the heat intolerance and fatigue I experienced, because of my MS, meant that I had to get out of the kitchen.
It’s been nearly 19 years since my diagnosis. I now have two beautiful children and have been married for 20 years. I like to think that I control my MS, and that my MS doesn’t control me. The best thing you can do for yourself is look on the positive side of everything.
Recently, walking has become an issue for me. I use a crutch and can’t really lift my left foot much at all. The elbow crutch helps because falling down hurts!
Sadly, MS continues to take from me, and I just wonder what the next thing will be. My wife, kids and family help me to get through the bad days – they are always there when I need them. And, being involved in all that my kids do makes me happy, like coaching or helping out with their sporting teams.
At the moment, I’m in my final year of studying Social Work. I never really imagined I’d get here, and I’m looking forward to going out into the world as a fully qualified Social Worker. I chose this path because I wanted to help those who are disadvantaged in society, and it’s a career that I can still do if maintaining full-time structured employment becomes an issue with my MS.
What I really do love about my life is that one day I’m heading one way and then along comes an idea or a proposal, and I’m off heading in another direction. That’s what it was like to get MS.
Another one of these moments was when a gold medalist Paralympian called me out of the blue and said, “I understand you sailed 20 years ago, don’t walk well and have MS. Would you like to be a part of a 3 man sailing team and help me get to the Paralympics in Rio in 2016?”. I’m quite excited to see if I qualify!
I’m so grateful for MSWA. They have been there to help and answer any questions my family or I have had. The staff really are so supportive and encouraging. And, the other people with MS, despite the many challenges they face, manage to hold onto their sense of humour and zest for life. It’s nice to know that the MSWA is right by my side helping me if I need it. What more could I ask for really?