Al Jazeera Correspondent

'Everyone in Orkney knows someone with MS'

Mary was diagnosed with MS in 1975 and has now moved to Orkney's main town to be closer to medical facilities.

Last updated: 15 Dec 2013 10:29
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Mary Zawadski, centre, says everyone in Orkney is related to or knows someone affected by MS [Al Jazeera]

Since my MS diagnosis in 1975 I now reside in Orkney's main town having moved here from a small island across the sea to the north.

Although the care I received there was first class, attending appointments with my neurologist, physiotherapist, acupuncturist and so on, could prove near to impossible during the winter months when I would be at the mercy of the weather and the ferry service.

MS & Me - Extra

Now I am a patient in a medical practice with a number of GPs. I am just a few minutes away from a hospital and there are ambulances at the end of my road. Carers visit in the morning and last thing at night now that I am wheelchair bound, after damaging a hip in a fall.

Most importantly there are those who will talk openly of illness, relieve fears and take away worries, and a team of medical professionals whose valuable support I receive.

Everyone in Orkney is related to or knows someone affected by MS. People are fair, non-judgmental, caring and generous in supporting 'Things MS'.

In order to raise funds to assist others with MS, I performed an unaccompanied parachute jump in 1988, and in 2013 several of my family pushed me for over three hours to complete the Hoy Half Marathon. Last year I was honoured by being asked to chair the Orkney branch of the MS Society, which I accepted.

The local branch helps its local members in so many ways: welfare, escorted days out, Christmas and summer lunches, daytime and evening meetings, newsletters, financial assistance for equipment, advice, support and friendship.

After all the love and care I have received how could I refuse to help the many local sufferers of this dreadful disease and to tell them that life can be pretty damned good?

Al Jazeera Correspondent can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2000; Friday: 1200; Saturday: 0100; Sunday: 0600; Monday: 2000; Tuesday: 1130; Wednesday: 0100; Thursday: 0600.

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