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Getting used to the physical work instead of being behind a desk took a bit of adjusting. My husband is amazing, he makes sure that I”m not over doing it.

“I was diagnosed with MS in 2015. I was working full time in banking at the time and had a case of optic neuritis, I saw an optometrist who saw some damage to my optic nerve and referred me to ophthalmology for further tests, it was here that they completed an MRI and discovered 7 specks on my brain. Further tests were done (lumbar puncture) to confirm the diagnosis. Once I met with the neurologist, they informed me that I have relapsing remitting MS and explained more about it and looked into treatment options. As I had no other symptoms at this point and was about to get married and have my own children, we waited a few months before beginning my first lot of treatment.

I now work with my husband on his family’s farm. I am very lucky that I can work around our kids (12,5 & 3) with their school hours and other commitments. Our farm is a finishing unit, so we buy in stock around March-April and fatten through the winter with the aim of having them ready for slaughter in Sept/October. Winter is our busiest time of year, but this means that over the Christmas period we have low stock numbers, and this allows us some much-needed downtime to get repairs and maintenance done and hopefully make it out to the beach for some R&R.

My role on the farm is really just helping out wherever I can. My husband, James, is in control of the day to day running of the property and I am slowly learning the ropes to be able to do some jobs on my own. These include moving stock, stripping retired fences, feeding out bailage to the cattle and completing office work.

I have definitely noticed the impact on my mood and fatigue since working on the farm. Getting used to the physical work instead of being behind a desk took a bit of adjusting. I have to be mindful of what I try to do during my time at work, I have to remember that I still have to look after the kids when I get home and keep the house running. My husband is an amazing support and is always aware of how much I have on my plate, he makes sure that I am not over doing it too much and is always happy to tell me when to sit down and relax.  If I have a big day on the farm, I notice the next few days I am very tired and easily irritated.

I love being out and about in the fresh air and the physical activity of being on the farm. It took me a little while to get used to the flow of the farm, I was working in banking for 12 years and everything had to be done in a particular time whereas on the farm a job can take longer than expected so that will push out other things, you have to be very flexible and adapt to every situation. It is very rewarding, the hard work we put in each day is to benefit our family, if we don’t give it 100% we are only letting ourselves down at the end of the day and that is something I really try to focus on.

As far as challenges go, it sounds silly, but I find I struggle a lot with gate latches. I have constant numbness in both of my hands, so this makes even the simplest tasks rather challenging. Depending on the type of latch I am working with, I find I have to carefully look at where my fingers need to be and what way the latch needs to go before I attempt to open the gate. (This can be rather frustrating when in a rush to get a gate open for oncoming stock). I enjoy the variety of jobs that come with farm life, some are far from easy, but I give everything a try and if I cannot do it the first time I keep trying.

I am a very positive person and I try to always look on the brighter side, when I was diagnosed I was scared, I think more so scared of what I didn’t know. As I have gotten to know a bit more about MS, how well it can be managed with medication, and the resources that are available from the MS Society I definitely feel very well supported, more informed and like I am not alone in this battle. It has been amazing being able to meet other people who have MS and share our experiences.”