News

How you helped Alison find acceptance

24th March 2021

Alison was at work when the whole left side of her body became weak. She couldn’t lift her left foot high enough to walk upstairs. She is left-handed and couldn’t write, couldn’t hold the pen. She was 44 when her life was turned upside down. When she was introduced to hydrotherapy, she felt relief for the first time since she was diagnosed with MS.

Alison's symptoms were starting to affect many aspects of her life, but most significantly her job. With weakness on her left side, she had to learn how to write with her right hand, she experienced vision issues, and began using a walker.

Alison explains, “It always felt like I needed to take my eyes out and clean them because they were always foggy. I was constantly taking my glasses off to clean them, but it wasn’t my glasses, it was my actual eyes.”

An MS relapse, a temporary worsening of symptoms, had her on leave from work for 11 months. It was then she realised that she wasn’t going to be able to return to work. A decision that took her a long time to come to terms with. Alison says she started to grieve the life she had before MS.

“It’s been a long process of re-establishing who I am with a chronic illness. Not being able to contribute to the family financially and trying to find my new role in life,” Alison says.

“When I first started needing a walker, I was only 45 and I really hated it because old people used walkers. And to me, I wasn’t old. But with it I could do more, and I could get out of my house.”

Her journey to accepting her new life and being comfortable with who she is started when her neurologist suggested she start seeing a physiotherapist. The first time she tried hydrotherapy she was sceptical. She didn’t like water and didn’t like wearing bathers. But from the moment she touched the water her whole world opened up.

Hydrotherapy offers amazing physical and emotional benefits for people living with MS. Water’s special properties can make exercising in water easier than on land. Warm water can ease muscle weakness so a person can participate in regular exercise to improve their strength and flexibility.

Thanks to our supporters, the MS Society offers hydrotherapy programs in two Adelaide locations and the Fleurieu Peninsula with almost 100 people with MS attending these classes weekly.

“When I got into the water it was a real relief. My body was working. It was like the pressure I had on land I didn’t have in the water. My body was able to do things I can’t do on land,” Alison says.

Since that day, Alison has made physical activity an important part of her life participating in hydrotherapy and exercise classes and having regular sessions with a physiotherapist.

She says her goal is to be as fit, healthy and strong as she can be so she can live as well as she can. She has really noticed an improvement with her MS symptoms as her body has grown stronger, and her balance is so much better.

Thank you for helping to give people, like Alison, the support they need to overcome the physical and emotional challenges of a diagnosis of MS.

You can contact our MS Assist team to find out more about our hydrotherapy services.

Back to News stories
How you helped Alison find acceptance