Gail was 41, managing a business and raising her two young children, when she was diagnosed with secondary progressive MS in 1996.
At the time of Gail’s diagnosis, she didn’t know anyone else living with this disease. Her MS progressed quickly, to the point where she required a wheelchair permanently by 2001.
“Not one of us knows. We could go to bed one day and wake up the next and have lost our vision, lost our mobility, or have an incurable disease.”
Gail’s symptoms, such as fatigue, can be so debilitating some days that she simply can’t get out of bed. And on the mornings that she pushes past that intense feeling in her limbs, as well as the mental struggle, she’s usually exhausted by the afternoon.
“The hardest thing of all is losing your independence. After my diagnosis, my daughter at the age of 12 had to be a mother and sister to my son. My son at the age of 10 had to cook dinner because I couldn’t get out of bed.”
Two decades on from Gail’s diagnosis, she lives on the Gold Coast with her son’s family and her service dog, Coda.
Gail feels privileged to have Coda, who has enabled her to remain independent and continue doing what she loves. Coda can help open doors, take Gail’s shoes off and put laundry in the washing machine (he even separates whites from colours!).