‘I will always remember it as the year of my MS diagnosis’

Scott Sweeney recalls his multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis and how he geared up to complete the Stratford-Upon-Avon Sprint Triathlon in aid of MS-UK. 

2020 was a year to forget for everyone… Covid-19 took over the world, and we were forced into multiple lockdowns. But I will always remember it as the year of my MS diagnosis. A relapse in May 2020 left me hospitalised for about a month as I temporarily lost the use of the left half of my body. It was a particularly tough time to be in hospital with no visitors allowed due to Covid-19, but with the love and support of my family and friends, and most importantly my wonderful partner, Jade, I managed to persevere.  

Nevertheless, forgetting how to walk was a demoralising predicament to be in, to say the least. Prior to my diagnosis, I would cycle to work every day, play football once a week, and on the rare occasion I felt motivated enough, I would challenge myself to run. I successfully completed the Birmingham Half-Marathon in 2017, my crowning sporting achievement, pre-MS. Therefore, losing the ability to walk for a few months drained my motivation; I embraced the laziness… and lockdowns didn’t help! Despite recovering to full mobility in late 2020, I still didn’t feel like running again. And a further, lesser relapse in summer 2021 just seemed to cement this mindset. 

But then, almost out of the blue, I signed up to do the Wolf Run in September with some friends from work. Peer pressure can be a very useful motivator! This proved even more true when I subsequently (and reluctantly) signed up to compete in the Tamworth 10k run a couple of weeks later. I had barely exercised in over a year, but I was suddenly forcing myself to try… to train… to triumph! I joined a gym for the first time in years and began swimming again. With this new-found wave of optimism and motivation (along with the heavy nudge of a very persuasive friend and collaborator, Dom), I committed to the next big challenge: The Stratford-upon-Avon Sprint Triathlon.  

However, this time I wouldn’t just be doing it for myself; I decided I would team up with MS-UK. Throughout my time in hospital, and all the uncertainty around DMTs, neuro rehabilitation, my future prognosis etc, I found a reassuring comfort online no matter which MS charity or forum I chose to investigate. I wanted to give something back to the community and show my appreciation; MS-UK would be the lucky recipients. The volunteers, fundraisers and staff deserve so much praise and recognition for their endless positivity, empathy, and support. 

So, the next few months of procrastination were immediately followed by a few months of intense training and fundraising, as May quickly approached. Not the best strategy, I’ll admit, but I’m only human! In the end, it paid off, the Sprint Triathlon was an overwhelming success! No pain, no suffering; simply adrenaline and joy. So much so, that I’ve already signed up with Dom to do another one in July! 

I’d just like to take this opportunity to extend a massive thank you to all my friends and family for all the support over the past couple of years, and your donations to MS-UK, in a fundraiser which was also an overwhelming success. At the time of writing, we’d managed to raise an amazing £1095, which is incredible! Also, a big congrats to my friend, Dom, for completing the triathlon with me. Thanks also, to my amazing partner, Jade; Dom’s lovely fiancée, Molly; and my evergreen and ever-supportive parents, Moira and Charlie, for accompanying us to Stratford-upon-Avon, and for your very vocal support throughout the race! 

Onto the next one!