Jane-Marie probably had symptoms from as young as 18 years old. She had a bad bout of glandular fever and everyone assumed it was still ‘in her system’. She recalls continuing to feel weird and fatigued. She kept tripping up and instinctively knew something was wrong. Medical staff dismissed her symptoms as ME. Jane-Marie went on to have a successful career as a solicitor, a family and run her own business.
She first saw a neurologist in 1999 but wasn’t properly tested for multiple sclerosis (MS), via a MRI scan, until 2007, resulting in a diagnosis of MS in 2008, aged 53.
Jane-Marie is philosophical about her missed diagnosis, concedes it wasn’t simple and believes she was a little unlucky. She had thought however that her diagnosis would lead to a plan but she was disappointed when her neurologist and MS nurses didn’t offer help or suggestions of what she could do for herself. She was told that diet made no difference and she should’ve started taking vitamin D as a child to make an impact.
She decided to cut back on some of the stresses in her life which were exacerbated by some tragic family circumstances. She sold her business in 2009, retired in 2011 and started to focus on herself and her wellness.
She first found George Jelinek’s book Overcoming MS while researching online. She read the book in days and it made a lot of sense to her.
After re-reading it she was spurred on to attend a week long retreat run by the OMS charity in Leicestershire, in 2013. This was the turning point for Jane-Marie. She met other people with MS who she immediately bonded with. (The group now have reunions, social media groups and chat regularly.)
Jane-Marie took to the OMS plant-based, wholefood diet well. She has learned to love experimental cooking!
She exercises to the best of her ability and regularly. Once a keen tennis player and walker she has replaced these sports with hydrotherapy, specialist yoga and physiotherapy. She also uses a motor-assisted tricycle and is a member of the MS Gym which she finds is an excellent online resource.
For Jane-Marie her stress reduction techniques include brain training and singing in her local choir which she joined a few years ago. Another benefit is that her 'brain fog' has disappeared. Previously she sometimes found social situations difficult as she couldn’t find the right words due to fatigue. She has now started learning another language, Spanish.
“Mindfulness has made it easier for me to remain positive on tricky days, knowing that tomorrow is another day. My experience of the OMS programme is fantastic and liberating. It has given me optimism for the future. It’s made me feel that I’m in control of my illness and I have found real improvements in my health.
“It’s an illness which you’re told, in the normal course of events, you can just expect to deteriorate slowly over the years.
“With the OMS programme, I have found an increase in my energy, I recover quicker and my fatigue is nothing like as bad as it was.
“I try to recommend OMS to friends who have MS and would recommend to anyone who is newly diagnosed to get stuck in. It’s a fantastic way of life and it’s given me my life back.”
Jane-Marie Harrison, Oxfordshire, 63
You can also watch Jane-Marie's story of hope.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) - a multi-system disease that causes dysfunction of the neurological, immune, endocrine and energy metabolism systems.
Brain fog - A feeling of confusion or lack of mental clarity brought on by cognition issues related to MS. This cognitive symptom is common in people with MS and is also known as brain fog.