Galashiels woman Natalie Brown has just reached the halfway mark in her swimming challenge in aid of the Borders branch of the MS Society. And already she has raised £2,665 for the charity – after setting a modest £500 target.
Natalie (34) is attempting to swim at least one length of every one of the six Live Borders pools in the Borders by 4th December, in what is a real test for her.
At the age of 23, she was suddenly and severely affected by MS. Within a few weeks of her first symptoms she was so ill she was in an induced coma and on a ventilator in intensive care.
“From there it was a very long road back,” she said.
Natalie lost the ability to speak. She couldn’t swallow, her eyesight was damaged, and she couldn’t stand or walk.
“I spent three months in the Western General in Edinburgh and then nine months rehabilitating at Astley Ainsley Hospital. I was told I had MS eight months after my first attack.”
Natalie added: “I have recovered to some extent. I can now eat and drink normally, but my speech remains severely affected, which is a struggle for everyone, especially when I still want to chat a lot but can’t really. I have to use a wheelchair to get around and I live with my parents.
“It has been very difficult, but I have been helped enormously by the Borders MS Society. They made contact with my mum and dad even before I left hospital and let them know that they were not alone and people were around to share experiences and provide support.”
One of the first things the MS Society did was loan Natalie an exercise bike that she could use from her wheelchair. It’s something she now uses every day and it’s a vital part of her exercise regime. The branch also introduced Natalie to Riding for the Disabled and organised power plate, Pilates, yoga, hydrotherapy and sports massage for her.
“All of these things have been part of the process that has allowed me to make very small, almost tiny, improvements in my mobility and fitness. Over time, the tiny improvements can make a huge difference. I decided to try to put something back by raising funds for the Borders MS Society.”
You can support Natalie by giving donating on her Just Giving page.