July 1, 2015


Latest News

Nurse wasn't prepared for challenges of MS

Thirty years as a critical-care nurse could not have prepared Shirley Atkins for the challenges of living with multiple sclerosis. Thank goodness she has the MS Society of Canada, Manitoba division, fighting alongside her all of the way.

After her diagnosis in 1998, Atkins realized she had been experiencing symptoms on and off dating back nearly 35 years -- temporary blindness in one eye, trembling in one hand.

Shirley Atkins receives award from Donna Boyd (left), director of development, MS Society of Canada, Manitoba division and Jennifer Moszynski, board chairwoman.

HANDOUT

Shirley Atkins receives award from Donna Boyd (left), director of development, MS Society of Canada, Manitoba division and Jennifer Moszynski, board chairwoman.

But there was, curiously, a 15-year period of remission.

Then, in 1998, Atkins had trouble walking and keeping her balance. She was diagnosed with MS.

"I was at a loss," says Atkins. "Here I had a high-profile, high-stress job and I had to retire because I couldn't run to emergencies anymore. I didn't know what to do."

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It can cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and paralysis. According to the MS Society of Canada, Canadians have one of the highest rates of MS in the world.

"There are so many variables to the disease," says Atkins. "Symptoms progress at different rates. It's always different for each person. There can be a lack of understanding in the general public. They can understand symptoms like the inability to walk, but it's the invisible symptoms, like not being able to remember something you said the day before, or the fatigue, that are more difficult to understand. ... Symptoms come and go. It's often day by day."

The mother and grandmother soon felt moved to take action against the disease that forced her into retirement. Atkins began by helping out with the MS Walk and at kiosks in malls. Then she did presentations for community groups about living with MS and participated in the MS Society's national survey. She now co-facilitates a support group for adults with MS. She even helped write a how-to guide for facilitators of support groups for the MS Society of Canada.

In November 2012, Atkins was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for her volunteer work with the MS Society of Canada, Manitoba division.

On Jan. 18, the society will be holding their Client Services Volunteer Day, which will bring together volunteers such as Atkins to discuss the society's programs and services.

 

If you know a special volunteer who strives to make his or her community a better place to live, please contact Carolyn Shimmin-Bazak at

carolynshimmin@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 14, 2013 0

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Scroll down to load more

Top