The story of the Dublin man who completely changed his life after a shock MS diagnosis 1 month ago

The story of the Dublin man who completely changed his life after a shock MS diagnosis

Brought to you by MS Ireland & Novartis Ireland Limited

"MS will always be with me, but that doesn't mean I can't thrive with it."

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Dublin man Keith Byrne recently shared his experiences of living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in a new Irish podcast series.

In the latest instalment of MS Explored - The Podcast, Keith shared how he managed MS when he returned to education, and how his diagnosis prompted him to change career.

MS Explored - The Podcast is a new three-part series launched by MS Ireland, in partnership with Novartis Ireland, in response to the urgent need for easily accessible resources for the MS community.

After developing symptoms such as blurred vision and fatigue, Keith was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in 2016, a type of MS where someone will experience a flare-up or relapse of symptoms, followed by a period of remission.

At the time of his diagnosis, Keith was working in financial services. He took a few months off from work following his diagnosis, and found it difficult to return to the role later on.

"I kind of soon realised that I have to take into account a lot of the factors in my life that didn't really work well for me. You know, stresses can play a big factor on your health, so I found the job quite stressful. Long hours, I felt it was quite a thankless job, you know? I didn't really get much satisfaction out of it."

While seeing a counsellor, Keith realised that he wanted a role which allowed him to spend more time with his wife and young family. Keith left his role in financial services to complete a Masters in Education, a decision which he said his MS diagnosis gave him the push to do.

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Now a primary school teacher, he says his new career is a much better fit for his life.

"What MS has given me is a kind of impetus to really live my life and be there for the people and dedicate my time to the people that matter most to me."

During MS Explored - The Podcast, Keith learned about the various supports available to those juggling education and their career alongside MS, such as separate exam rooms, note-takers and additional time during exams. Keith was not aware of these services when completing his Masters degree, but wishes he had been.

"I tried to be very independent, you know, and then it kind of transpired then that there were certain kinds of things I could have done with. There was extra time for exams, for example, which I would have really benefited from.

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"I didn't avail of any of those services and it's only from being on the podcast that I'm like, 'oh, I should have looked into it a bit more,' you know?"

Keith says he took part in the podcast series to share the realities of living with MS.  He says, in his experience, people don't have a good understanding of what an MS diagnosis actually means, unless they've had personal experience with the condition.

People often associate the condition with mobility issues, he says, but in reality, that may not be a symptom for many people and, for some, it may not be the symptom they find hardest to manage.

"I would say, either way, it's going to be life-changing, an MS diagnosis, but at the same time your life doesn't have to be over because you get MS. It's just that your path might change.

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"If you know somebody who's been diagnosed or should you ever face diagnosis, to know it's not the end of the world. It will change your world, as [can] any chronic illness or condition. You do have to make changes when these things come into your life, but that's not necessarily a bad thing."

You can listen to Keith's episode of MS Explored - The Podcast here.

Brought to you by MS Ireland & Novartis Ireland Limited