NewB member John Houston is an example to everyone living with MS on how to make the most of your life.
John who lives in the Antrim Road area of Belfast was first diagnosed with MS in his late teens.
He recalls: “At the age of 15 I suddenly had problems walking. I had been to the Mater and the Royal but they weren’t sure what the problem was. I had no feeling in my leg. After eight months things went back to normal but three years later I was paralysed down my left side.
“Every three to four years the problems arose, lasting eight months and then went away again. I was eventually diagnosed with secondary progressive ms.
“The last 13 years or so I gradually got weaker. It was all on my left hand side. The left side of my tongue, my left hand and left leg. I might yet lose the use of my left hand. I have problems with things like pulling up trousers, cutting meat, and buttering bread. When I butter the bread it goes around in circles.”
When the left hand side of his tongue got swollen John couldn’t pronounce certain words. “I was relieved that my sight and speech didn’t both become affected at the same time.”
Having worked in the health service for 12 years as a domestic 43 year old John likes to lead a full life. Though he got more than he bargained for on becoming a member of the Action MS ‘New B’ group. He found romance through an MS break in Fermanagh at the Share Centre. A chance meeting with Lianne Jamison from the Coleraine based ‘Aspire’ group started a beautiful friendship which still continues. Lianne from Portstewart shared a birthday in December in the same week as John so the two have had plenty to celebrate of late.
John remains coy on the subject of a ‘big day out’ becoming a possibility. He simply says: “Everybody keeps saying it. If she wants to go for it I’ll take it. We take it day by day.” A sensible approach to courtship indeed John.
It was after watching an Action MS TV advert that John became interested and eventually joined the local support group. He has enjoyed everything from meals at the Odyssey complex to day trips to Coleraine and Newcastle.
As for his own interests down the years John has enjoyed everything from electronics to computers to astronomy to photography to motorbikes.
He said: “I have my own computer and with a friend of mine Sam we used to take photos all over the place at different sporting events. I would have went to the North West 200 every year. The Dunlops Joey and Robert were my favourite riders.
“The best time to use the telescope was during the winter but I can’t sit out in the cold now. ”
A man then with a varied life John has been used to reaching for the stars and he will undoubtedly continue to do so.