I’ve had an interesting, busy and ultimately successful week; I have a new job!
A highlight of the week however, was meeting a Dressability customer; Martin and his wife Beryl*. Martin, has a condition called Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which affects the Central Nervous System – a system which is fundamental to everything the body does. MS, therefore can cause many different symptoms – though the majority of people with MS will not develop these symptoms simultaneously and thus will not become severely disabled. However, around 10-15% of people with MS will suffer from high levels of disability and thus many complex symptoms.
In a person suffering from severe MS, the symptoms may take over a person’s life, and could affect almost every action necessary to get through the day – walking, eating and getting dressed… Each of these actions requires the help of a carer; this may be a family member or a friend – someone who has also made adjustments to their life. It is vital that these people, both patient and carer, get support to ensure that their lives are made easier and their independence is maximised.
Martin, is within the 10-15% of people with severe MS, and is highly dependant on his lovely wife. Whilst he is able to get around in an electric wheelchair, he relies on Beryl to dress and feed him (when it comes to ice cream though, this is very much a one for you, two for me kind of ratio! – Oops…not sure he saw that happening!), the former being particularly difficult for a petite lady – not simply due to the size and weight difference – but due to the awkwardness of clothes!
To dress Martin in a t-shirt, jacket or shirt Beryl puts his arms in first and then employs a little bit of contortion and brute force to get it over his head. That’s where Dressability came in; they have opened the back of his formal suit and replaced it with velcro and opened the side of his waistcoat and replaced it with a zip. Martin and Beryl demonstrated this, while I was drinking delicious home made Elderflower cordial in their kitchen, and it made the task so much easier. Not only that but the clothes looked identical and no different to those you would find on the high street. Martin, Beryl and their friend who was visiting were genuinely excited, pleased and relieved to find such an innovative and useful charity – as we sat chatting they thought of a list of clothes which they would have adapted in the future.
It was great to meet such a lovely couple, to gain greater understanding of what my charity of choice does – and I also found out how Oxygen hoods are used. Oxygen is essential to the tissue healing process, but the inflammation which is typical of MS restricts the transportation of oxygen. Damage cannot be prevented, but additional oxygen can help the body to heal and this limit the damage.
Breathing oxygen under pressure causes the dilated and leaky blood vessels in MS to constrict back to normal size and reduces the swelling. At the same time, more oxygen is delivered to the bloodstream so increasing the amount available to help undertake repair.
*Names changed for anonymity