Living with MS: “I take absolutely nothing for granted”

James Kearney. Photo: Michelle Ghee.
Today, Wednesday, May 28 is World MS Day and to mark the event, local man James Kearney spoke to the Leader about living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Today, Wednesday, May 28 is World MS Day and to mark the event, local man James Kearney spoke to the Leader about living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Diagnosed with MS in June 2012, at the age of 32, local man James Kearney says that he had been showing symptoms for a while before then.

Working in an office in Dublin, James experienced a flashing light in front of his eye, and passed it off as a migraine.

When his eyesight didn’t improve, he went to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, who referred him to a neurologist following an MRI scan, as they suspected that something was wrong.

After that, James went for an MRI scan every year for four years. With the third scan, along with a lumbar puncture, it was confirmed that James had Multiple Sclerosis.

“I didn’t even know what MS was,” James admits, adding that at once, he felt both devastated at the diagnosis and relieved that they had discovered what was wrong.

MS, Multiple Sclerosis, is a condition which affects the central nervous system. There is no known cause and at the moment, there is no known cure..

“The first two months after the diagnosis was a dark time,” James continues.

“I think it’s kind of like a grieving process.

“But I had a lot of great people around me.”

When initially diagnosed, it was found that James had 15 lesions in his brain. In his fourth scan, a bigger lesion was found across the top of the head, and doctors decided to intervene.

James explains that there are a few different types of disease modifying drugs that can be administered to help manage the symptoms. They can be taken daily, every second day or weekly depending on the type.

Having found a medication and a routine that suits him, James happily reports that they continue to work well for him.

Offering advice to others who are diagnosed with MS, and indeed their families and friends, James says that a positive attitude and management of the symptoms are key.

For everyone, the symptoms of MS differ, and no two cases are the same. For James, taking supplements and vitamins work, along with plenty of exercise and outdoor activity and of course, continuing to do the things he loves, including hiking and photography.

For MS Day last year, James was on Grafton Street with MS Ireland, and he hopes to do the same again this year. While there, he was able to fundraise for the society, as well as speak to a number of people about their own experiences with the condition.“That was magic,” he smiles.

James also joins the local branch of the society for their meetings, which take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 8pm in John Browne’s pub. Welcoming anyone with an interest in joining, James also adds his thanks to the community on behalf of those helped by the society.

“Thanks to the community for their help and kindness. People affected by MS really appreciate their donations.”

“I just absolutely love life and go towards it at every opportunity,” James continues.

Comparing the condition to a picture frame, James explains that while that frame or limi t is undoubtedly there, he can choose what to fill it with. “I have control of what’s inside the frame,” he adds.

“Now I take absolutely nothing for granted,” James concludes. “I might have before, not a chance now!”