‘Proud and happy’ coping with MS

Julia Colhoun was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago at the age of 20. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Julia Colhoun was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago at the age of 20. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
For many, the letters MS stand for multiple sclerosis - but for an Invercargill woman they mean ‘‘mighty strong’’.

Julia Colhoun was diagnosed with the chronic condition 14 years ago at the age of 20.

She was constantly feeling tired, and one morning she woke up and noticed she could not see properly.

After many tests and doctors’ appointments, she got a diagnosis, but hearing the news was not easy.

‘‘It was awful. I burst into tears because my mum’s aunty had it and she was in a wheelchair so that was the first thing I though - wheelchair, s...,’’ she said.

However, Ms Colhoun decided it would not stop her living her life.

She had to adapt her lifestyle and learn about her frailties.

Her positive attitude and support from loved ones helped her cope well with her condition.

‘‘I, like many others with MS, am faced with hurdles.

‘‘Some of these hurdles I would describe as bigger than others, but that means I have to learn to jump higher.’’

Ms Colhoun works as a teacher part-time, and helps on the farm where she lives and exercises.

One of her biggest achievements in recent years was being able to walk again without a walking stick or wheelchair, she said.

‘‘Today, I don’t use any of it. I am so proud of myself.

‘‘I don’t know why exactly, I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s because of my attitude.

‘‘I’m really proud and happy, honestly; I still have my life and I still walk - not very far or fast, but I walk.’’

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic condition involving the central nervous system.

People with MS have their immune systems attacking the myelin, which is the protective layer around nerve fibres.

The Southland Multiple Sclerosis Society is highlighting its awareness week and promoting an appeal to raise funds for the work to help people living with and supporting those with MS in their local communities.

Ms Colhoun believed it was important for the community to support the work, as many people were affected by MS.

‘‘I don’t know if everyone knows what MS is but it is something so common - especially in Southland.

‘‘I’m sure a lot people know someone with it.’’

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