MS has taught me how to be a fighter and never give up

“My name is Hannah and I have had MS for over 20 years.

I have Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.  My lower legs and feet have been on fire and in terrible pain for over 15 years.

Since diagnosis, I run my own business and I always go to the gym.  My 13 year old daughter and I live with our 2 cats and our dog.

I have been on Avonnex, Copaxone, Ocrevus and I am now on Tysabri.  I am very fortunate to have an amazing neurologist.  The staff at the Neurology Day Stay Ward I go to at my local hospital are of huge support, as are the MS Society.

In 2021 I was given the ridiculous idea of competing in a body building competition.  I did my first competition last year and I was not happy with how I placed, but MS has taught me how to be a fighter and never give up.  So in true fashion I had to do another body building competition this year which I called redemption.

MS and body building has its challenges, I find posing so hard for body building!!!  I had originally thought you just walked out on stage which is far from the case!!!  Johanna Mountfort was my posing coach, and she was amazing.  I couldn’t even walk in stage heels when we met.

I competed in an Auckland Body Building Competition.  I had entered 3 or 4 classes, but on the day of the competition, I woke up at 3 am and felt like I was paralyzed from the waist down (which I have since noticed can happen when I haven’t had 8 hours of sleep).  By some miracle I limped into the hall for the competition at 9am in a hoodie, track pants and slides (so the tan wouldn’t get ruined).  I hadn’t done my make-up and my hair was a mess.  It was great as I was looked at by people as to say – why are you here!!

It was suggested I compete without heels, but I was on a mission and that was not the plan.

3 hours later my make-up and hair were done (fake hair as I lost half my hair from a MS treatment), and I was walking OK.

The first class I entered was Physically Unwell Standing.  I knew I had the physical conditioning, but I was not confident how I would bring the stage presence needed.

I ended up on stage with the Gold Medal and burst into tears.  My mission was complete.  I decided to pull out of the other classes I was doing that day and went to the pub with some of my very large support group.

Post comp I have found out that my bladder is not working, and going forward it will not be used.  This is another unexpected challenge that I will get my head around and I will teach myself to live a new normal.

Life has its ups and downs – especially for us.  Last year was not my year, but this year is going better for me.”