herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

I was diagnosed with MS just weeks before my wedding day

HOPE: Jack Osbourne's fight will highlight illness

A 30-year-old Dublin woman who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) last year has said Jack Osbourne's diagnosis will bring the illness back into the spotlight.

Naomi Donaldson was diagnosed just before her 30th birthday and her wedding day last year, after her sight began to deteriorate rapidly.

MS is an auto-immune disease for which there is no cure. It attacks the central nervous system and can cause numbness, fatigue, muscle spasms and a loss of co-ordination.

Naomi has to inject herself with a drug called Rebif three times a week to keep her body mobile, and she also has had some sight-loss and fatigue.

The first year after diagnosis involves a process of acceptance, she told the Herald.

"I was getting married in August, so I didn't have a chance to stop and think, so I just kept going. Ronan my husband was so understanding.







birthday

"I said to him I understand if you don't want to go ahead with the wedding, but he just said 'don't be stupid, I'm not going anywhere'.

"We spoke about what'll happen if it does get worse, what about kids and our life together.

"I had to take my first injection on the night of my 30th birthday party. I came home from the night and I sat down -- it took me an hour before I could do it.

"Once I got over that first injection it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined. I wasn't angry when I was diagnosed but I was sad and I was worried.

"I wondered how it was going to affect us having kids and I knew that was something that Ronan was thinking about as well.

"I was wondering how it was going to affect Ronan as well and was he going to have to change his life around?

"But then I started to focus on the fact that I feel very healthy, I'm not sick, I'm just tired. It took me a good year after the realisation hit me to come to accept it," she added.

Naomi's 24-year-old sister Rachel also has MS, and their grandmother died from the disease 50 years ago.

"They said that it's very unlikely that two people so close could have it. But I was diagnosed in May of last year, a year after Rachel was diagnosed.

"We keep each other going, and we've jokes at the kitchen table like, 'I can't clean up that, I've MS', and then one of us would say 'I've MS as well'.

"She had completely lost her vision for a few days, and she was diagnosed then. I had problems with my eyes on and off for a few years and they said it was stress or over-exposure to computers."

The publicity around Jack Osbourne's diagnosis will lead to more public awareness about the illness. Jack's mum Sharon Osbourne struggled to compose herself when speaking about her son's illness for the first time yesterday.

Appearing as one of the hosts of CBS daytime show The Talk, the 59-year-old couldn't hold back her tears. "He's great -- he's doing really, really good and I want to thank everyone for all their texts and goodwill and love they send to us," she said after pausing for a long time to avoid breaking down.







Celebrity

Naomi said: "Part of me was thinking that because he's a celebrity, the story is given half a page in all the newspapers, while there are so many people who have it. But I was really happy to see that it's back in the news so the public consciousness will be raised again."

Naomi and Ronan know the worst- case scenario they may have to face in the future, but for the moment they're focusing on building a family life.

"With MS, down the line you're talking about mobility issues, people often end up being confined to a wheelchair, that's the worst-case scenario."

hnews@herald.ie

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