Chris - Leicester MS Therapy Centre
Chris was diagnosed with MS in 1984 at the age of 40. He loved sailing, but when he no longer had the strength to pull his boat up the slipway, or the dexterity to tie knots, he gave it up. Now in his seventies, Chris has since returned to sailing with a new-found lease of life.
I thought the best thing to do was to forget about sailing and pack it up altogether. It was like a box of chocolates, if I didn’t open it I couldn’t be tempted.
After my diagnosis I felt uninformed and frightened. My mobility started to go, I lost strength and dexterity on my right hand side, and was unable to continue running my business. I became frustrated at not being able to achieve the physical aspects of life.
About 10 years ago I was introduced to the Sailability programme, which supports people with disabilities to get into sailing. I was quite apprehensive the first time I went because I was in a wheelchair and couldn’t picture how I’d possibly get in a boat. I didn’t realise there was such a thing as hoists and how many incredible people were willing to make all things possible.
Once I was back on the water, it was like riding a bike. I soon got the hang of it again. I was in the fresh air and, for the first time in years, felt free. Now I go to sailing every week and regularly visit the Leicester MS Therapy Centre, which gets me doing things and out of the house.
I still get frustrated sometimes, but remind myself that I have a loving wife, family, and friends, and that I only have MS rather than being run over by a bus. I have taken up dinghy racing at club, national and international level. I learned to fly a glider and have even been carried up Snowdon and Ben Nevis in a wheelchair for fundraising events.
Ten years ago I couldn’t have dreamed that any of this would be possible. Now I live a free life and MS has given me the desire to continue striving for my independence and achieve whatever I can.