Last week, a women was left distraught when she returned to her car after a shopping trip with her daughter in Adelaide, South Australia, to find a nasty note. Ms Justine Van Den Born had parked in a disabled bay, as she suffers with Multiple Sclerosis. However, somebody had clearly seen her leaving her vehicle after parking and decided to leave an anonymous note. The note read: ‘Did you forget your wheelchair???’ Justine, who was diagnosed with MS when she was 35, responded to the note on Facebook – and the post has now been been liked and shared thousands of times. She has received support from all over the world.
Justine wrote: To the person that left this on my car last week at Mitcham Shopping Centre – I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was 35. Not just MS, but the worst one that never goes away and is slowly crippling my life. On the day you saw me, I was having a good day. I was walking with my daughter unaided having a nice day. Thank you for ruining that. You made me feel like people were looking at me, the exact way I feel when I can’t walk properly. I am sick of people like yourself abusing me on my good days for a facility I am entitled to. She goes on to explain: ‘A disability doesn’t always mean a person has to be wheelchair-bound,’ adding: ‘Lucky for you, one day I will be. Right now my focus is to walk into my best friend’s wedding next September and not have to be pushed.’
What is Multiple Sclerosis? MS is a condition of the central nervous system. It occurs when the coating around nerve fibres (called myelin) is damaged, causing a range of symptoms including impaired vision, balance problems, dizziness, fatigue, bladder problems and stiffness and/or spasms. Other symptoms may include problems with the bowel, speech, swallowing and tremor. Symptoms usually start in your 20s and 30s and it affects almost three times as many women as men. The immune system, which normally helps to fight off infections, mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it of the nerve fibres, either partially or completely, leaving scars known as lesions or plaques. This damage disrupts messages travelling along nerve fibres – they can slow down, become distorted, or not get through at all. As well as myelin loss, there can also sometimes be damage to the actual nerve fibres. It is this nerve damage that causes the increase in disability that can occur over time. Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the condition and its symptoms. There is no known cause and a cure is yet to be found, but research is progressing fast. For more information on Multiple Sclerosis, please visit the MS Society’s website here.