A disability isn’t always visible!
In recognition of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we hear from one of our #SEGreatPeople on their experience of life with a disability.
My name is Chris Holmes, a Technical Sales Representative at Schneider Electric for about 2 years now.
After recently being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I wanted to share my disability story, in the hope that it will start further discussions with people who might not feel too comfortable with talking to others about their own struggles.
In September 2020 I experienced extreme double vision, it was like being permanently cross-eyed. After a lot of tests with opticians and my GP, I was finally referred to have an MRI. Within half an hour of my MRI, I got a call from the head of Neurology at the hospital. They explained that they had noticed scarring on my brain, and this was most likely to indicate Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
To say it hit me hard is an understatement. Within the first few hours of this conversation, I was in tears calling my mother, sisters, and some close friends to explain what had happened. All of this by the way, without even knowing what multiple sclerosis was. My wife was in tears, and my son was just looking confused and obviously didn’t know what any of this meant. The next day though I woke up with a determined mindset of understanding what MS was. And how this was going to change my life moving forward. I must have spent the next 2 days just googling like mad, the symptoms, side effects, treatments, and any support groups that were out there.
From a work point of view, I waited until after the weekend so that I could talk to my manager and explain what was happening to me. I actually found it almost therapeutic to tell someone else what was happening. That I likely had MS but there will be more tests needed for them to confirm this diagnosis.
Over the following 2 months, I had 2 MRIs and 2 Lumbar Punctures, some of which were incredibly painful, unbearable at times.
When I returned to my original neurologist, I was then booked in for my most recent MRI where more legions (scarring) on my brain and spine were found.
At the end of April 2021, I finally got the call to confirm that I had Multiple Sclerosis.
So now I was able to think about treatments for my disability. With multiple sclerosis, it is down to the patient to confirm what treatment out of 13 possible ones, to opt for. A lot of reading had to be done on this and all of the best results pointed to chemotherapy drugs. As I am writing this, I have just finished up on my first batch of treatment. I’ve had to be housebound for 2 months during it, as the chemotherapy drugs have damaged my immune system. I won’t know the results of this until more MRIs and blood tests in the coming weeks and months.
What the future looks like for me is still unsure. However, I always think positively about what life throws our way. I’m very fortunate that I have an amazing wife and son who really are my little rocks in life. I want to know more about MS every day. I’ve even taken part in an MS walk to support other sufferers and the MS Society. They are constantly trying to find ways of improving life for fellow sufferers of this disability.
What I would say to anyone reading this, whose disability affects their life. You are not alone and there are plenty of people who know what you are going through. I am happy to share my story in the hope that it educates others on what it is like to have a disability. Not every disability is visible and people need to know that it doesn’t define people. So if anyone would like to reach out to me for a chat, I am happy to do so. Hopefully, we can create a community together where we can communicate better. And also feel a proper level of support moving forward.
At Schneider Electric, we promote and respect the rights of people with disabilities by raising awareness and tackling the stigma and stereotypes faced by people with disabilities. We foster equal treatment and equal opportunities for people with disabilities and are working to build an inclusive culture for all abilities.
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