Pensioner with MS tells of life in lockdown 'shielding'

A pensioner with MS has shared her experience of shielding during the Covid-19 pandemic as people living with the illness across Scotland are being asked to contribute to a new study.

Sue Polson. 70, tells of living with MS in lockdown 'shielding'

Sue Polson, 70 from Edinburgh, who has had MS for more than 22 years was identified along with her husband as high risk at the start of the lockdown.

She is just one of thousands with the condition classified as extremely vulnerable and was asked to self-isolate for a period of 12-weeks by the Scottish Government.

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The MS Society is looking for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to provide vital information on how coronavirus is affecting them.

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MS damages nerves in the body and makes it harder to do everyday things, like walk, talk, eat and think. Having MS alone does not increase your risk of getting Covid-19, but many people with MS are at an increased risk of infection, or severe complications.

Mrs Polson said: “At the end of March, I received a letter from the Scottish Government to tell me I had been identified as a high risk patient. My husband also received these restrictions a week later.

“So, we began shrinking our lives by reducing contact with friends and family.

“A few days later, we received another message to tell me I was to be ‘shielded’ which meant I could not go outside for three months. Again, my husband received the same letter one week later so we are both confined in our flat until July.

“So far, we are still speaking though I’m not sure if that will be possible for three months.

“Frustratingly, I have been working to get myself back to some sort of normality after three weeks in hospital following a fall. “I was at the stage of going out in the wheelchair and using a rollator in the house.

“With the help of physios, I was about to try extending my range to going outside with the rollator. It obviously wasn’t meant to be as the letter arrived and put a stop to that.

“So now I am following the exercises for wheelchair users on the MS Society’s website. It’s not glamorous, but it’s all I can do. I do feel I am losing confidence and momentum.”

“The worst thing is being unable to see my grandchildren, my son and daughter-in-law and our many friends who are part of our lives and visit regularly. I miss the pleasure of seeing everyone face-to-face and hearing all the news.”

Morna Simpkins, Director of MS Society Scotland, said: “More than 15,000 people live with MS in Scotland, and we are asking every one of them to join this study to help us understand more about Covid-19. There’s so much we don’t know about this virus and only real world data will help us change that.

“This is a worrying and uncertain time for all of us, but many people living with MS are especially vulnerable, and this study will allow us to support them as best we can.”

During the first 24 hours alone, 1,174 people with MS completed the questionnaire – including 11 with potential cases of coronavirus – but more people are needed to help researchers fully understand the virus and its impact.

To take part, people with MS can visit https://ukmsregister.org.

For the latest information on how people with MS are affected by Covid-19 visit mssociety.org.uk/coronavirus

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