The ALLIANCE's Humans of Scotland initiative shares and showcases short stories about the everyday lives of the people we engage with.
I was diagnosed with MS nearly 20 years ago and after a slow but relentless decline in mobility, I am now completely dependent on my wheelchair and mobility scooter to get about.
When I was first diagnosed and still walking well, I wanted to try and do something about my condition and one of the options available was Hyperbaric Oxygen. This treatment is to breathe pure oxygen while under pressure and after researching it, I decided to try the process.
I was feeling optimistic about its potential effectiveness and went for treatment in a nearby centre but when I got there, I got a terrible shock. It was busy, full of people in wheelchairs, with walking sticks, people completely dependent on carers, in fact with a whole range of issues I wasn’t ready to see. It’s not that I couldn’t handle the fact I might become one of them, it’s just that I wanted to get on with my life and didn’t want to be reminded of possibilities in the future.
12 years later and after significant decline to my current state, I restarted the treatment and soon my weekly visits became a highlight of the week. The people there are still burdened by the range of problems I had first seen but now I also saw laughter, discussions about common issues, mutual support and above all an open and sympathetic friendship of fellow sufferers, carers and supporters.
On that first visit I was blind to everything but the range of disabilities I might have to face and never recognised the importance of contact with compassionate, positive thinking and above all, a caring group of people. I do now.