Young woman reveals tough reality of living with multiple sclerosis

Jessica Arbon, from Dereham, has revealed what it is like to live with multiple sclerosis (MS)

Jessica Arbon, from Dereham, has revealed what it is like to live with multiple sclerosis (MS) - Credit: Jessica Arbon

A young woman has revealed the trials and tribulations of living with MS in a bid to raise awareness of the disease.

Jessica Arbon, from Dereham, was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in November 2017, when she was just 25-years-old. 

This variety of MS is the most common, and is marked by relapses during which symptoms worsen for more than 24 hours, followed by remission when sufferers can feel completely normal. 

Jessica Arbon, from Dereham, was diagnosed with MS when she was just 25 years old

Jessica Arbon, from Dereham, was diagnosed with MS when she was just 25 years old - Credit: Jessica Arbon

Miss Arbon first realised something was wrong when she felt like her "brain was not connected to my legs". 

She experienced dizzy spells and numbness, which those around her initially put down to tiredness.

"I remember crying because I was so tired and didn't know what was wrong with me," said Miss Arbon. 

"I was referred to the hospital for an MRI and blood tests, and was told I had MS.

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"Of course, you go online and you start researching. I didn't know much about it at the time.

"I genuinely thought that, within a couple of years, I would be in a wheelchair. I didn't know how I was going to continue my job."

Things have not been easy for Miss Arbon since her diagnosis.

She suffered with mental health problems for a long period as she chose not to speak about her illness with loved ones. 

The head chef, who works at Bawburgh Golf Club, has had to negotiate painful bouts of paresthesia in her arm and there are days when fatigue and low moods hit her hard.

Her social life has suffered, too, as she seldom goes on nights out and tends not to take responsibility for making plans. 

But there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful, Miss Arbon says, and she is determined to stay positive. 

"Mobility-wise I am doing alright, and to be honest I have not thought too far into the future," she added. 

"My friends and the team I work with are really supportive, and I can always talk to them if I am struggling. 

"The trouble with MS is that one minute you can be exhausted, and the next minute you feel normal.

"I tend to try and carry on as normal. I can't speak for everyone but, for me, if I cancelled plans I would feel like the illness is winning.

"It may seem stupid to push myself, but I don't know what might happen in the next five or 10 years."

Raising awareness

Miss Arbon is determined to harness her positive mindset to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis. 

On Thursday, May 19, she is hosting a charity golf day at Bawburgh's Glen Lodge to raise money for the MS Society. 

"I watched something recently which explained how many people are not vocal about having MS and they are effectively going through it by themselves. 

"The main purpose of the golf day is to raise awareness, because I don't think people know enough about it and it is not discussed like some other illnesses.

"It can be invisible, because it looks like we are okay but that is not always the case."

Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend or enter a team in the event, while Miss Arbon is also looking for businesses to sponsor holes and donate raffle prizes. 

Call Bawburgh GC on 01603 740404 or email golf@bawburgh.com to get involved.

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