40 years after diagnosis: MS patients now depend on walking frames

When his son Christian took over a farm in Uckermark in the fall of 1993, his mother Brigitte Bernhard followed him east from Rhineland-Palatinate. At that time, he already had his diagnosis in his luggage. At the age of 38, the young woman first experienced physical symptoms for which there was initially no explanation. When she turned 40, doctors correctly guessed multiple sclerosis (MS). Asked why she hasn’t lost the will to live in the face of the horrors prophesied, Brigitte Bernhard says very pragmatically: “It’s probably because I didn’t rebel internally. After the first stage of mourning, I was ready to take it for granted. the disease. This made it easier for me to deal with it. You have to learn to live with MS. “

family support

He would also like to mention the support of his family, which he has always been able to count on. Most importantly, her son and her daughter-in-law at the Stegemannshof make her everyday life as simple as possible to this day. “But unfortunately the times when I could jump on my bike and go to the strawberry stand to help are over,” she adds regretfully. Meanwhile, walkers and wheelchairs have become her indispensable companions. “But I can still take a few steps with a stick,” she hurries to reassure herself with a laugh.

+++ This nervous condition mainly affects women +++

Members of the MS self-help group, which she joined in 1998, have also benefited from this enthusiasm for decades. “I knew this from my time in Kaiserslautern. I have always found the exchange with MS patients very enriching and even empowering “, Brigitte Bernhard points out in an interview:” I also wish it in my new home. “The retiree looks back with satisfaction and has been involved in group life since from the beginning. So it made sense for him to take over the presidency in 2006. But that era is now drawing to a close. The senior will turn 80 in September. Then he would like to hand over his office to younger hands.

give up the mail

With this news, Brigitte Bernhard surprised her group members on Wednesday, who had gathered again for the strawberry festival on her son’s farm for the first time after a long crown break. “We have taken contact restrictions very seriously over the past two years,” says the group leader: “Due to our medical history, we couldn’t afford to be negligent when dealing with the virus. Everyone accepted that.” .

Read also: A bad diagnosis binds two women together

Thanks to the new media, they stayed in touch. Skype was used on a regular basis, and specialist news such as new therapies and medications made the rounds quickly via Whatsapp. At least as important as the medical aspect was the personal exchange. Brigitte Bernhard tells of those affected who, due to age or the inability to work, have very little contact with other people. “There are some who otherwise hardly go out. The support in the group was extremely important to them, especially during the pandemic ”. So you can imagine how happy it was to see each other again after a long absence. Brigitte Bernhard is confident that a worthy successor to the presidency will be found.

More women than men

He also has in mind someone he trusts to lead the group with equal caution and empathy and, above all, to help newcomers in the first difficult moment after diagnosis. The fact that most of the participants are women has only limited reason to do with the fact that they generally find it easier to publicly admit physical weaknesses and disabilities. The 79-year-old knows it’s also because women are disproportionately affected by MS. It is not an inherited disease, but there are accumulations within families. The youngest of them is around 30 years old and is currently pregnant with twins. Brigitte Bernhard tops the age list. Because multiple sclerosis has a good thing. It affects life expectancy only minimally. This has been shown in several studies around the world.

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