Jessica Moss was 22 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. There were no warning signs, health scares or genetic links. But one day she woke up to find her legs were numb and she feared the worst - her immune system was attacking itself and she battled fatigue and muscle pain.
Within two months she was diagnosed with MS.
MS can be triggered by stress or a traumatic experience, Moss said.
According to the last MS prevalence study, 42 people in Marlborough were living with the disease and prevalence rates were similar to the UK. It is assumed there are more undocumented cases.
Moss, 34, from Blenheim, said she did not know what MS was and assumed it was an illness that affected only older people. "I freaked out, I didn't want to know," she said. "When I was diagnosed, people kept asking me if I was going to be in a wheelchair. For the first two years I wouldn't tell people I had MS."
It was a newspaper article on an MS sufferer - a girl Moss had gone to school with - that prompted her to join the MS and Parkinson's Society Marlborough which supports 85 people locally. "I learned it wasn't all doom and gloom and I could manage."
The senior administrative assistant with Marlborough Lines has a type of MS known as relapsing remitting MS. Diet and a lack of vitamin D found in sunlight were contributing factors and every six months Moss gets her vitamin D levels tested.
In the last 12 years she has had six relapses but credits revamping her diet and exercising as helping her manage the disease.
"I haven't got 100 per cent feeling in both feet and I have a loss of sensation in my left hand. With relapses, you come right as much as you can with medication. Everyone is different, there can be years or months between relapses."
Moss said the MS and Parkinson's Society Marlborough hoped to de-stigmatise MS. "I am not afraid of what I have got and don't hide it. I am young and still mobile."
For more information on the MS and Parkinson's Society Marlborough contact Jane Heywood on 03 578 1327.
- The Marlborough Express
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