“A LOT OF PLANNING GOES INTO MY DAY”
Colleen Furlanetto, 51, from Euroa, Vic, began experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis 12 years ago. Since her diagnosis, the former nurse and mother has become chair of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council.
“My journey with MS began when I was bitten by a tiger snake – doctors think the MS was already present and the bite exacerbated it. Numbness and tingling in my left leg spread to my other leg and I had some vision loss, too.
It was a frustrating five years waiting to get a diagnosis, but no treatment is possible right now as doctors say it could make my MS worse. So, I have to listen to my body and try and manage the hand weakness, the tiredness and the aches and pains.
I was a pathology nurse until problems with my hand dexterity meant I could no longer take blood. But nursing showed me how people live with chronic conditions and that’s helped me stay positive.
I know younger women diagnosed with MS who haven’t had a family. I have three teenagers and I get support from family, friends, a GP, a neurologist and the MS Society.
A lot of planning goes into my day – it takes a few hours to get going. I have things ready the night before and write lists. Memory and cognition are a challenge when I’m fatigued, and I have falls because my mind thinks my legs are moving faster than they are. I use a wheelchair and a wheelie walker.
Living with MS makes you give things a go. I ran for council and last year I was the Mayor.
MS is a road bump and you just have to hold the steering wheel tighter. There’s a sense of grief because you can’t be as physically active as you’d like, but when you face challenges you rise to the occasion.” >