A HAMILTON man living with MS is encouraging others with the condition to sign up for classes that provide help and support.
Jim McLaughlin, 53, lived a fit and active lifestyle and did up to five spin classes a week before he was diagnosed with the primary progressive form of multiple sclerosis in 2016.
MS affects the nerves in your body and makes it harder to walk, talk, eat and think.
Jim’s symptoms include struggling with his mobility, fatigue and bladder control, and he eventually had to leave his job as a Logistics Manager in 2019.
He said: “I miss the spontaneity, you have to plan everything. I have to think about where the toilet will be, how many stairs there are, how I will get in.
“I’m more embarrassed by toilet accidents than falling. I also don’t have any power in my voice now.”
Jim has since signed up for the MS Society’s Living Well with MS programme helpful and a learning experience for how the disease works.
Sessions include webinars on bladder and bowel issues and exercising with MS, as well as regular catch-ups.
Each webinar covers a different topic, including research developments, pregnancy and MS and how to talk to children about MS.
They offer support for people, as well as a chance for people with MS to connect with others.
Jim said: “It’s good to talk to other people with MS – that’s how the Living Well with MS sessions have helped me.
“It’s shown me we’re all different but we do have similar problems. The sessions are open and you’re free to discuss what’s happening with you.
“You don’t feel like you’re being judged, people are there to support you. You come off the call feeling better about yourself.”
Tracey Harrison from the MS Society runs the ‘Living Well with MS’ programme.
She said: “MS is relentless, painful and disabling. It’s an unpredictable condition and is different for everyone.
“That’s why we offer such a huge range of support through our ‘Living Well with MS’ sessions so there’s something for everyone from those who may have only been diagnosed recently to people who have had MS for many years.
“The sessions are a way of bringing people with MS together to discuss issues that may be affecting them from changing symptoms to talking about family life.
“We always aim to make them really friendly and open.”
MS currently affects more than 15,000 people in Scotland and over 130,000 people live with the condition in the UK.
You can find out more about the MS Society’s ‘Living Well with MS’ programme and the courses and webinars on offer here.