A DETERMINED Larne woman has spoken of her battle to overcome the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, in the hopes of inspiring others who suffer from the condition.
Amie Dix was diagnosed with MS in 2010 and was hospitalised for over two months when a severe relapse caused her to lose the use of her legs. She was told she would not walk again, but just a few years later Amie has fought back and is now on her feet again.
The 23-year-old continues to experience symptoms and like most people with MS lives with uncertainty due to the unpredictable nature of the condition.
But the brave Larne woman has decided to use MS Week (April 29 – May 5) as a launching pad to help raise awareness of the condition in Northern Ireland, which has one of the highest rates of MS in the world; roughly one in every 500 people here affected by MS. Most people are diagnosed between 20 – 40 years old.
Amie, who lives in Larne with her friend Ruth and her two dogs, Daisy and Yogi, first discovered she had MS after experiencing numbness in her legs and arm. Her condition deteriorated quickly and she experienced severe vomiting and found herself unable to move, suffering relapses every three weeks. She had to wait 12 weeks until she could access beta interferon, and it then set off a severe relapse that worsened until she lost sensation in her legs.
She was taken to hospital and given steroids intravenously and in tablet form, and was told by her doctor that she might not walk again. But Amie was resolute that this would not be the case – after just being given a puppy for Christmas she was determined to get home.
Amie said she was so determined that she focused on wiggling her toe for days until she saw some movement. This gave her hope that she would walk despite the doctors prediction.
After just over nine weeks at the hospital Amie was able to walk again, unaided, with the help of physiotherapy and returned home. She also started taking Tysabri injections – a disease modifying treatment designed to slow the progression of MS – and now her relapses are less frequent.
Amie recently wore high heels on a night out, which was a massive milestone for her. When she looks back at photos of her lying in the hospital unable to move, she can’t believe how far she has come. She now wants to inspire others.
Amie is on the committee of the MS Society Larne branch and also attends an MS exercise class every Thursday.
She told the Times: “I wanted to be able to do things for myself again. I started walking again and was out of the hospital by my 21st birthday. I even passed my driving test a few months after. I was extremely determined to get home and start living again.”
As part of MS Week, the MS Society has launched its ‘Stop the MS Lottery’ campaign, calling for all people with the condition to have fair access to the treatments and services they need, when they need them, wherever they live in the UK.
Tom Mallon, head of the MS Society in NI said: People with MS are facing a lottery when it comes to accessing the care and support they need to manage their condition and this must change.”