DUBLINER Miriam ‘Mim’ Greene has survived six bleeds on the brain and emergency neuro surgery in Denmark – but she says MS Ireland keeps her sane.
Living in Portobello for the past 30 years, because Mim was around 40 when she first presented with MS symptoms, it was not diagnosed for almost seven years.
She was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2012 and despite constantly telling her GP, specialists and members of the medical profession that she believed she had MS, she was only diagnosed with the condition 18 months ago.
She told Dublin Gazette: “Everything was attributed to the aneurysm 15 years ago, I was told I was too old to develop MS.
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“I had an MRI cancelled at Tallaght Hospital because even though I was falling over and my legs buckling, this was attributed to the aneurysm. I presented at St James’s with a letter from my GP stating I had left side numbness.
“After I waited 15 hours, and sat with seriously mentally and physically ill people – and no access to food – I just didn’t feel safe and I left.”
Mim is one of more than 9,000 people in Ireland living with MS, the most common debilitating neurological condition affecting motor, sensory and cognitive function.
She revealed: “I’ve lost my career as a therapist/counsellor, something I thoroughly enjoyed. I told a neurologist once about my symptoms, and he replied it was because I was too fat – I was a size 16 at 5ft 6.
“After that, I did lose weight, almost three stone. I cycled everywhere but as my mobility deteriorated, still no one listened.
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“I bought a new expensive bike but discovered I was losing the power of my legs. Now I live with three neurological conditions, the aneurysm, epilepsy which was diagnosed in 2012, and MS.”
Mim is left with a frustration and sadness knowing that had she taken that scheduled MRI years ago, her MS would have been diagnosed and she might have prevented the progression of the condition.
But she has a lot going for her. Despite previous brain trauma, she is a positive, upbeat person who ironically is using her own life skills and professional qualification to get through all the challenges she faces on a day to day basis.
She said: “I was told after my aneurysm, that I would never go college, having experienced brain trauma. I completed two diploma qualifications since.
“If my qualifications in counselling were only to get me through this, my God, it was worth it. I do my best to stay positive, and find blessings every day, writing poetry and painting.”
‘MS Ireland saved my sanity’
“MS is a horrific illness,” said Mim. “It’s a cruel disease and widely misunderstood. What you lose with MS, it’s not just mobility and balance issues but a loss of memory and the fatigue is horrific, the endless exhaustion is awful.
“I can no longer bear hot or cold temperatures. I used to love to travel but not all airlines will provide services to support persons with MS.”
Mim has found huge support and solace with MS Ireland. She was attending regular yoga and physiotherapy classes with the group in Bushy Park, and also loved her hydrotherapy treatments in Celbridge.
“MS Ireland saved my life and my sanity. I live alone, with very little support around me. Roseanna Duke and the team at MS Ireland have been fantastic, and they look for positive ways to address the daily challenges facing service users.”
Clearly Mim has a sense of humour which also helps her stay positive.
She admits: “The ordinary things are the daily challenges – trying to get a sock on is like an Olympic endurance test.”
Mim can’t leave her home at Portobello, owing to the Covid-19 restrictions, meaning she cannot attend her MS classes and socialise in person with friends there.
“I’m still managing to get about with a stick, I’m not using a wheelchair,” she said. “I’m at the loss of my walking, hydrotherapy and yoga and physiotherapy. I’ve lost a huge amount of function in my legs during the lockdown which won’t come back – or so I’m told.
“I hope to stay in this house till I’m taken out in a box. I love my home, good neighbours, the canal, shops and cafes all nearby. I keep looking for the blessings in life – Covid 19 has meant I’m getting my house sorted.
“These are my blessings as are Roseanna, the volunteers and the other women at my MS classes. And when I can return to see them all, that will be the best blessing of all.”
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