Back in November, MS Trust supporter Trish Deykin was awarded The Times Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration in recognition of her amazing achievements in the triathlon. Here, Trish tells us about her journey with MS, how staying active has helped her deal with the condition and why she’s determined not to let MS stop her following her dreams.
When were you diagnosed with MS and how have you dealt with your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed in 2004 after having what I now know to be two relapses. When MS was first mentioned to me, I thought it was the end of the world but I had to wait a fair few months (how many I can’t remember) before I had a lumbar puncture and evoked potential tests done. A few months after that it was confirmed. I think the months of waiting for tests and results was the worst so once it was confirmed I was actually rather relaxed and pleased that there was something wrong and that it wasn’t just in my brain (no pun intended!). I used sport as a way of ‘switching off’ the anxiety of not knowing if it was MS or not. Working out in the gym just took my mind off it.
Do you feel that being diagnosed with MS has changed your outlook on life?
It has definitely changed my outlook on life. Although MS is not terminal it does make me make the most out of each day and live life to the full as much as I can. It has also made me more stubborn and determined and overall a stronger person. Yes, I have MS but there are plenty of other illnesses which are far worse.
What are the main symptoms you experience day to day?
The main symptoms I have on a daily basis are pain in my eyes, fatigue, burning sensations on my legs and crawling ants on my back. I also have balance problems, cognitive problems and pins and needles on my right arm and hand which can prove difficult when putting my shoes on, writing and typing.
When did you discover a love for triathlon?
I found the love of triathlon two years before I was diagnosed. I was doing quite well when I was diagnosed but I was told to stop competing by my then neurologist - so I did. I kept keeping fit but got bored and needed a goal so I entered a local triathlon, won and the bug was back.
How has staying active helped with your MS?
Keeping active has definitely helped my MS. Pilates is brilliant for helping balance problems, swimming is the perfect pain killer and sometimes I go swimming just for pain relief. Keeping active also boosts my mood which starves off the negativity that MS brings, plus it means I can eat chocolate every day!
How did it feel to win the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration?
Winning the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration was amazing and I can’t believe it was given to me! To be given such a prestigious award is an absolute honour and to be in a room of such amazing and lovely sportswomen was unreal. It was an amazing and crazy evening.
How has the MS Trust supported you?
The MS Trust have been super supporting me through my MS. I found the leaflets and booklets available such a relief. The fact that there was information out there which is easily available and so knowledgeable made me realise that it’s not just me who has those symptoms/feels that way. I’ve also used the phone number - to talk to someone who knew what I was experiencing was such a reassurance.
What advice would you give someone who’s just been diagnosed with MS?
My advice to someone who has just been diagnosed is for them to know it’s not the end of the world. You can carry on with your life even if you do have to manage it around your MS. Sometimes adjustments are needed but don’t dwell, deal with them then look forward. If you have a dream, go for it and don’t let MS stop you. You only live once after all.
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