Katie Mattin, living with MS for 10 years
Whilst living in the UK, it was only 4 months after Katie had given birth to twin girls, that she was diagnosed with MS. Katie was feeding her daughters one night and her toe went really numb. She didn’t think much of it because it was cold, but then the next morning it hadn’t improved. The numbness continued to get worse and gradually went all up one leg.
Katie visited her doctor and was told it was simply sciatica. However, a few days later, she went to walk down the stairs and the other leg did a similar thing which caused her to stumble. Katie thought, ‘that’s really weird I don’t remember my foot touching the ground’.
Katie says “I began to worry, and thought there is something really wrong with me. So I went to the hospital, and my husband was saying ‘I’m sure you’re fine’ but I was convinced that there was something”. The hospital did a number of tests and couldn’t find anything wrong, so decided to do an MRI to rule out both a brain tumour and MS.
“I went for the MRI but in the time between getting the MRI done and receiving the results, my symptoms had gone away. So I was confident that I was fine and there was nothing wrong, so I went into my appointment with that frame of mind. The doctor who gave me my results couldn’t make a formal diagnosis based on just that one instance. I asked him ‘am I going to die’ and he said no”.
Soon after that appointment, Katie had a lumbar puncture and was provided with a formal diagnosis of having MS.
Katie then went 5 years without any symptoms, and during that time moved from the UK to Australia. Whilst living in Brisbane, Katie has found the warm weather to be really good in managing her MS, helping with her energy levels and having no new symptoms.
However, in August 2015, Katie lost the feeling in the bottom of both of her feet, with the numbness slowly moving up her leg. “I really panicked because I hadn’t had any issues for so long and you don’t really know how worse it is going to get, if it will get better, or if will just keep getting worse. And how am I going to pick up the kids from school if my legs aren’t working!”
Katie saw a Neurologist in Brisbane, who was really positive about ways Katie could manage her MS, and told her of new treatments that had become available since her diagnosis. “He was really great with helping me to understand the importance of consistency with my medication, and the benefits of exercise and sunshine for those with MS.”
Katie manages her MS through consistency with her medication, regular exercise and boot camps, and keeping a positive frame of mind.
Katie says “My advice to the newly diagnosed is not to google MS. It was such a confronting thing and in hindsight I shouldn’t have done that. Not everyone with MS ends up in a wheel chair, so don’t focus on that being your future because realistically it may not be.”