Saturday, October 21, 2006

John says 'Don't suffer MS in silence'

LIFE was going well for John Morris. He had moved to Stamford, fallen for the town’s traditional charms, and orders were rolling in for his new painting and decorating business.

But the 43-year-old’s life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).

He says it took him a year to deal with the diagnosis.

Now he is urging other people with MS not to sufferer in silence like he did and use the help that is available.

Mr Morris knew something was seriously wrong by mid-2004 when he started to have mobility problems.

He said: “I couldn’t keep my head in the sand any more and pretend it wasn’t happening. I didn’t have a clue what MS was. It broke my heart when the doctor told me that’s what it was.”

Mr Morris’s condition means he will not be able to work again.

“To me, that is the biggest killer with this disease,” he said. “My life was so good, and I had achieved more than I had ever hoped.”

Days after his diagnosis, Mr Morris visited the MS Therapy Centre in Hartford, near Huntingdon.

He said: “There were three people in wheelchairs. I couldn’t come to terms with this and thought to myself, is this me in a couple of years’ time? I was scared. I made my excuses and left.”

Mr Morris, who now lives in Stanground, Peterborough, finally plucked up the courage to return in January this year.

And now he says the help he’s received from the centre has enabled him to get his life back together.

Not only has the centre helped his physical condition, but John says it has saved him “from going mad”.

And he believes that there are hundreds of MS sufferers in Peterborough who could benefit from the centre’s support.

Mr Morris said: “I started using an oxygen chamber that helps my condition. All the months of being alone and frightened is the opposite of how I feel right now.

“My body is still falling apart, but my mind is a lot better. To talk to people with MS, swap theories, talk about anything to do with MS and not feel intimidated is priceless.

“This place is a godsend and saved me from going mad. There are many more people that it could help if they only knew it was here.”

Mr Morris suffers from the secondary-progressive type of MS. It means his illness gets progressively worse.

The centre has 120 members who come from as far away as Saffron Walden and King’s Lynn.

Centre manager Margaret Harrison said: “The support we give to sufferers, their carers and families reminds them they are not alone.”

The centre relies on charitable donations and needs £60,000 a year to keep operating.

To contact the centre, call 01480 458688.
21 October 2006