MULIPLE sclerosis (MS) affects around 100,000 people in the UK but for many people little is known about the condition until someone they care about gets the devastating diagnosis.
MS is a condition of the central nervous system which sees the coating around the nerve fibres damaged. Symptoms can be different for each sufferer.
There is not yet a known cure for MS so once a person is diagnosed it will last a lifetime.
Cheryl King, from Uttoxeter, was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS two years ago and has told of her symptoms in a bid to raise awareness of the condition as part of MS Awareness Month throughout May.
The 45-year-old saw her journey start when she went numb down the right-hand side of her body and her leg was really numb but she did not think much of it at the time.
However, it was when she got continual pins and needles that she went to see the doctor who sent her to the hospital for an MRI scan.
It was this scan that found lesions on her brain and spinal cord, which led to the diagnosis.
Ms King said: “With my strand of MS I can suddenly have an attack which leave me with muscle pain and then go for a period without.
“I also get dizziness and vertigo and have to do what I call the ‘wall walk’, where I walk around holding on to walls.
“I cannot drive and cannot go shopping on my own, I have to go with my partner. I also have yearly check-ups with a neurologist at Derby where I have a complete assessment and they decide on my treatment.
“I have always stayed positive about it though and there is a really strong support network in East Staffordshire. I am positive person and that’s helped me get along since my diagnosis. I’m lucky I’ve been able to pack up work as this makes it a bit easier on me.
“It is known as the silent disease as to look at some of us, you would not know that anything is wrong but people don’t know what is going on inside. People who know me have probably noticed the slurred speech, dizziness, pain and pins and needles.”
It is believed that around 30 people are living with MS in Uttoxeter, Rocester and Stoke but many people will not learn about the illness until it affects someone they care about.
To help people suffering with MS, Ms King holds a pilates class at the Riverside Hotel, in Branson, with a teacher funded by the MS Society and the room provided for free.
The class is held from noon on Mondays.
Ms King added: “This enables people with MS to have a bit of exercise and it keeps us mobile. It also gets some people out of the house to socialise as some do not get out of the house very often.
Anyone who is showing any signs of MS is asked to visit their GP to find out more.
Ms King is raising money for the MS Society and anyone who wants to donate is asked to visit www.justgiving.co.uk/cheryl-king3
More information on the condition is available from the MS Society website at www.mssociety.org.uk.