Good Health (Australia) - - Health Coach / Autoimmune Disease -

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.” >

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