Toni's strength

25th September 2020

Toni thought it was strange when she couldn’t feel the towel against her back as she dried herself. Gradually the numbness spread until she couldn’t feel anything from the chest down to her toes. It felt like she was walking with pins in her feet. A few weeks later she was diagnosed with MS.

She was scared. Scared about what the future might bring and how she would manage this condition with a young daughter still in primary school. Until she started talking to others living with MS.

Toni joined several online peer support groups so she could connect with people internationally, nationally and within South Australia who understood what she was going through. She really believes in the power of people with MS coming together to support each other.

The MS Society hosts a private Facebook group for people living with MS in South Australia and Northern Territory to connect and share their experiences. There are over 380 people in this group. We also have 20 peer support groups that meet face-to-face providing an invaluable support system for people with MS.

“We share knowledge between each other. I think that’s really supportive and really helpful. It gives you a bit more security that you’re heading down the right road,” Toni says.

Swelling in the arms and legs is a common symptom for Toni. She experiences muscle weakness and soreness. When she walks, she can feel off balance particularly on uneven ground, so she uses a walking stick to keep her stable.

For years now, Toni has been doing regular exercise at the MS Society gym with our personal trainer, Roy. We offer a specialist gym for people with MS. Our gym equipment and personal training sessions can be specifically tailored to people with mobility concerns.

Toni says she has learnt so much about her body and has gained so much more confidence in the gym. She now knows that exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous, every little bit helps her to build strength and reduce the impact of her MS symptoms.

“At first, I never thought it was helping me but then when I stopped for a few months I definitely felt the difference. My mobility got stronger and my arms weren’t fatigued as quickly. I’m able to move longer, to do more things and feel a little bit normal for a while when I am consistent with exercising,” Toni says.

She has seen a visible difference in the strength of her arms since she’s started with the gym. At work Toni had a portable extension attached to her work desk that gave her extra support for her arms when typing as they started to get fatigued. Toni says when she was first diagnosed, she couldn’t do that for long without a lot of pain. And now, thanks to the regular gym sessions, she doesn’t need it anymore!

Back to News stories
Toni's strength