Sarah and Amber’s dog walk challenge

I am married with three grown up sons (all with partners and homes of their own now) and a teenage daughter. We have a menagerie of pets as well as Amber, including rabbits, guinea pigs, two cats, a bearded dragon and three hens. They all keep me very busy!

My MS diagnosis came about almost ‘by accident’. I was referred by my GP to a neurologist after suffering from very severe headaches as well as a few other symptoms (which I thought were connected to the headaches). An MRI scan showed legions on my brain and that I had probably had MS for around ten years already. I remember the neurologist telling me to ‘go and live as normal a life as possible for as long as I could’ and that I must inform the DVLA. It all came as a bit of a shock but also gave me some answers as to why my health had been deteriorating. After a short time of processing what was happening, I decided to get on and take the neurologist’s advice. In fact, I am probably living a fuller, busier life now than I was pre-diagnosis. I returned to horse riding after a fifteen-year gap, after reading it can help with MS symptoms. I’ve been back in the saddle almost five years and love it! We are lucky enough to loan a horse once a week from our local riding centre. My daughter even comes with me now too, so it’s something we do together.

I began working at my local vets eighteen months ago and I believe this was part of my MS journey too. An opportunity for a change of career (and something I had dreamed of doing since I was a child) came at the perfect time. So, I work three days a week on the reception desk. It is very busy and I get very tired but the team I work with are very understanding and supportive. Seeing all the gorgeous pets that come in makes it all worthwhile.

Amber came into our lives nine years ago as an eight week old puppy from Dog’s Trust. She is a huge part of our lives and a much-loved family member. Last year she required surgery on both back legs after suffering cruciate ligament problems. She was so brave and had to endure weeks of crate rest and lots of nursing care. I am pleased to say that she is now more or less back to her old self and enjoying accompanying me on short walks. The Big Purple Dog Walk was an ideal challenge for us both as well as raising money for such a good cause.

I was seriously ill with Covid last Autumn which set me back somewhat. Of course, MS decided to ‘join the party’ as I was recovering from Covid. I am pleased to say I am pretty much back to normal (my normal!) now and getting on with life.

Having MS has made me cease opportunities in all areas of my life. It continues to be a steep learning curve and I have had to discover a ‘new normal’. I am incredibly grateful to my family and friends for their support. And also to charities such as MS-UK who offer resources and support to MS warriors and their families.

Amber and I are on our way to tripling our target as I have received some cash donations from older family members, which need to be added to our total. We are keeping going and enjoying our little walks.