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Claudia the MS warrior – Part 1

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Claudia loves to swim!
Diagnosed back in 2011 with the incurable Multiple Sclerosis, Claudia Dieckmann shares her warrior story. She has Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, there are 2 other types being Primary Progressive and Progressing Relapsing. Claudia has fortunately not had a relapse since 2012, and has an injection every second day called interferon with which in itself has some side effects hampering her daily life.
 
”I feel torn as a diagnosis of MS is never welcome but without it I would not have changed the life course I was on. It is the MS diagnosis that put a huge stop sign in my way. MS has given me renewed focus on priorities in life and to appreciate all the small things,” Claudia positively explained to me.

She began to see double but put it down to being stressed, tired and overworked. However she did go to her GP who sent her to an eye specialist who then sent her to hospital for a MRI and a lumber puncture she described as ”ouch!”

They suspected MS but they can’t diagnose on first occurrence. She was sent home off work for 5 weeks to recover. After returning to work she felt better but not a 100% and relapsed shortly afterwards. Losing feeling in her right hand, right arm and right hand side of her face, she rushed back to the neurologist. She was then given a definite diagnosis of MS and at that moment she knew life would never be the same again.

She said to me with some humour that ”I am fortunate to be in a position to manage my symptoms in a way that is not unlike the life of a house car. Sleeping and eating take up the majority of my day.”

Claudia never knew what MS was until diagnosed with it herself. She went home and Google was her first port of call for more information on the condition that would attack her central nervous system. ”The internet is full of doom and gloom but there is access to other MS warriors who are positive. Support from the MS society and the internet can offer a wealth of information,”’ she told me.

Her feelings continue to be mixed regarding MS. She said ”I feel this will always be the case. I accept that I have MS, I get frustrated, sad, and angry…everyday has its challenges. Life with MS is easier with the help of others.”

Claudia looking strong in Camps Bay.
No longer able to work, with a background in Events planning and management, Claudia’s MS condition has had an impact on her day to day life. She is able to do volunteer work though for the National Sea Rescue Institute as an administrator and with Shine helping kinds to read and write. She feels as though, ”the value from the community and the self-worth in doing something meaningful has been so beneficial to helping with the MS.”

MS makes her very tired so she sleeps in the afternoon everyday day, despite the physical symptoms she finds this in itself is very limiting.


I asked her how she copes with having MS on both a physical and emotional level, and these are her approaches to coping.  

She swims to cope physically. Being in the water makes her ”feel alive and unrestricted again. The weightless, cool and energizing environment is best.” Claudia was once a sports enthusiast but now she can only swim because of MS. ”Sleep is also vital and getting enough rest is key in my management plan,” along with ”regular massages with a sports massage therapist which really help to rid my body of toxins, fix aches and pains, stretch out and relax,” She explained. She used to focus a lot on eating the right diet but has since eased up on being what she called ”pedantic about diet” and said it is a lot less stressful not to be. She does however ”eat well but moderation and knowledge is the central focus. If I want that slice of cake, I will have it. So diet can be physically beneficial but emotionally damaging. The choice is yours.”

Standing with her father, mother, brother and sister-in law.
Emotionally she does not cope on her own. She openly talks to loved ones about how she is feeling instead of just pretending and putting on a brave face. ”Let it out and don’t let it fester.” Claudia expresses that she sought out help and ”saw psychologists in the beginning but it was frustrating as I was being overwhelmed by MS and felt general psychology was not helping me cope. This is an ongoing process and I am keeping my eyes and ears open for the right person, as I know there is benefit to be found in their expert advice as well as objective observations.”

”How you confront MS is a very personal battle,” she wisely shares.

There will be an interesting part 2 to Claudia, a MS warrior’s journey with Multiple Sclerosis. 

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