In 2011, Jamie developed a pain in his eye and was diagnosed with Optic Neuritis. He was referred for tests including a MRI scan and lumbar puncture and his neurologist confirmed a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2012. Jamie had some awareness of the illness as there is a hereditary link - his mum has lived with MS for thirty years.
At the time of his diagnosis, Jamie - it’s fair to say - was not leading a healthy life. He worked in a highly-pressurised sales environment, ate junk food, weighed 21 stone and wore a size XL in clothes.
Some of Jamie’s first thoughts were, “OK I’ve got MS, it could be worse, so what can I do to help myself?”
It was a good job he had that attitude because he didn’t get much support from his medical advisors at the time. He was told to go away and see how life progresses.
His mum, Jeanette, shared one of her magazines which was full of people and their MS stories. In the magazine he read about George Jelinek’s book called Overcoming MS and quickly came across the charity with the same name. He ordered a copy, devoured George’s book and he then signed up to attend a seminar with Professor Jelinek in Brighton. There he saw people doing well on the Overcoming MS (OMS) programme. He knew this was the course of action he was going to take, for the rest of his life.
Jamie changed his eating habits and gradually overhauled his diet. He has since lost 7 stone. He now loves to cook with his partner and enjoys the plant-based, wholefood diet recommended by the OMS programme.
Jamie now exercises more - he is a gym regular, swims, enjoys walking, squash, tennis, badminton and yoga to name a few. He has even tried Bhangra despite being the only male in the class! His partner also has a horse which is a great opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air and Vitamin D from the occasional sun that visits the West Midlands!
The OMS programme has provided structure in Jamie’s life. His job as a National Sales Manager for a security company continues to be potentially stressful with a lot of travel, but he continues to work full-time and tries not to let the small things get to him. His work has also been very supportive - in fact, the wife of his current boss helps him with acupuncture and massage which really helps when any pains reappear. Generally though his symptoms are now minimal.
Jamie is lucky to have the support of friends and family. His brother helps look after his mum, as sadly his dad passed away suddenly in 2018. His mum has secondary progressive MS but she also follows the OMS programme which has been a positive source of inspiration in keeping her focused on her wellbeing. Jamie lives with his partner and has two children, one away at University and the other currently studying for his GCSEs.
Compared to his pre-MS life when he was depressed, eating all the wrong foods, doing no exercise and not being mindful, today Jamie says
“I feel great now and expect to be working for at least another twenty years. I am fitter and stronger than before and am contributing to society.”
Jamie wants to inspire others. He is an Ambassador for the charity OMS in Birmingham which involves supporting others locally who have MS. He has also set up a formal partnership with a Wolverhampton hospital. He is a regular speaker at meetings for people who have been newly diagnosed with MS, within six months. He feels he can support the MS nurses, by telling his personal story, by being living proof of the benefits of better lifestyle choices including diet, exercise, vitamin D and stress reduction.
“The reason this opportunity came about was because my OMS lifestyle has impressed the MS team at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton. They wanted their MS patients to come and meet people that have lived and breathed MS and talk about their experience in keeping their symptoms at bay.
“The feedback from my talk gave people in the audience hope and reminded them that they can have a healthy future to look forward to. I’m grateful to have been able to meet a large group of people that have recently received the devastating news of having MS and having them leave with hope gave me great satisfaction and desire to spread the Overcoming MS approach.”
Jamie Macpherson, 45, Wolverhampton
Lumbar puncture - A procedure in which a thin needle is inserted between the bones in your lower spine, used when diagnosing MS.
Optic neuritis - Optic neuritis refers to inflammation that damages the optic nerve – a bundle of nerve fibres than transmit communication from the eye to the brain. It is commonly caused by MS. Optic neuritis is often one of the first signs of MS.
OMS Ambassador - OMS Ambassadors serve as regional coordinators, offering advice and encouragement as people start the OMS programme.