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FamiliesHealthRelationshipsPost-baby tiredness turned into something far more serious for this new mum

Post-baby tiredness turned into something far more serious for this new mum

A mum with MS has told how she refused to let the illness get in the way of having a family.

Jo Dunk, 40, initially thought her constant tiredness was the result of having her first child Oliver in 2008.

But 18 months later she was diagnosed with MS, which affects the nervous system and causes exhaustion.

Jo was left struggling to even walk some mornings but she and husband Ian, 41, were determined to have a brother or sister for little Oliver.

After considering her life-changing condition and the physical limitations it would have on their family’s future.

But they decided to press on and daughter Gracie-Mae was born in January 2011 and is now a happy and health four year-old.

Jo said she has no regrets and even offers advice to others in the same situation considering motherhood.

She said: “I had symptoms of MS for a long time but because I didn’t get diagnosed for a while as each person can have very different symptoms.

“I was on maternity leave with Oliver when the symptoms first started to kick in but I went back to my job in retail and found it extremely draining.

“I kept thinking ‘I didn’t know it would be this tiring to work and be a mum’ but then I started to lose the feelings in my arms and legs.”

“I remember lying in bed sobbing uncontrollably with tiredness when Ian went back to work.

“The first doctor I saw was quite dismissive, even though I had suffered from a real indicator of the disease.

“I was diagnosed a year and a half later after going to about three or four doctors.

“I was referred to two neurologists. The second got me booked in for a CT scan and he could see legions come up straight away which showed up the condition.

“In a way it was a relief because I knew something was wrong, but it was also very scary and felt like a bit of a death sentence because I had always been a very active person.”

She added: “We thought long and hard once I was diagnosed about whether I would cope with another child.

“But one of the clinchers for me was meeting someone whose sister had MS and had three kids, so we decided we could manage and just went for it.

“My MS wasn’t so bad and with a close network of friends and family around us we decided it was what we wanted, the sooner the better, in case the symptoms get worse later on.

“If we thought it was genetic perhaps we would have reconsidered but it was definitely the right decision and my children mean everything to me.

“Planning anything like family holidays can be difficult because I just don’t know how I will feel and sometimes I just have to collapse and rest.

“But Ian and I are delighted we have the family we longed for and we will all fight it together.”

Jo Dunk with children children Ollie and Gracie-May.  A mother whose post baby tiredness was discovered to be multiple sclerosis has spoken of her brave decision to give her son a sibling.  See MASONS story MNMS.  Jo Dunk, 40, was diagnosed with MS in 2009 a year and a half after symptoms started just after her first child Oliver was born in May 2008.  But despite the disease, which affects the nervous system, making her exhausted, struggling to walk some mornings and dizzy she still longed for a second child.  Jo and husband Ian, 41, had to consider the impact of Jo's life-changing condition and the physical limitations it would have on the family's future.  The pair decided to take the plunge because they always wanted two children - and little Gracie-Mae was born in January 2011 and is now a happy and health four year-old.  Now with a complete family, Jo says she has no regrets and even offers advice to others in the same situation considering motherhood.

Jo with her children Ollie and Gracie-May

Ian, who works for a sports supplements firm, said he doesn’t believe having Gracie-May is selfish.

He said: “We don’t think it was a selfish thing to do because we don’t know how Jo will be in 10 years’ time, she might be absolutely fine, and didn’t want to find ourselves regretting not going for it.

“Jo is a feisty character and I knew she would tackle the challenge head-on, much like she has dealt with having MS.”

MS is a condition of the central nervous symptoms where the coating around the nerve fibres is damaged, creating a range of symptoms all over the body.

Jo, a part-time admin worker from Canterbury, Kent, suffers from the most common form of the disease, relapsing remitting MS.

Symptoms do not suddenly get worse as long as the sufferer leads a healthy lifestyle and Jo takes an injection three times a week to stop the symptoms.

There is no single gene which causes MS, so although her children are likely to be at greater risk of developing the condition they are not high risk.

Jo offers other MS sufferers in her area advice on bringing up children while battling the condition.

It affects around 10,000 people in the UK and most people are diagnosed in the 20s and 30s.

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