Back in 2004, I was 24 years old, enjoying life in every way possible, working in the fashion industry; a career that I loved. I was happy, dating and out with my friends. 2004 was also the year I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
I was a determined, career driven young woman so understandably I was shocked and devastated about this diagnosis.
I had a few minor symptoms over the next few years including numbness, balance issues, and weakness on the left-hand side of my body. But they were often years apart so this allowed me to live in denial of my condition.
In 2009 I lost my ability to walk from a big MS attack that paralysed the entire left hand side of my body.
I lost my career, the use of my body and life as I knew it. Simple little things like the ability to wash and feed myself became the most difficult task of the day.
I went from running around, enjoying my life, to standing still and paralysed. I was living life to its fullest, and suddenly found myself in turmoil and darkness. I went from feeling in complete control of my future, to feeling totally helpless.
In less than 10 days my whole world had crumbled, as my body slowly, day by day, became paralysed. I could not feel or move the left-hand side of my body. It became dead and heavy. My sister literally had to drag me, on her back, up and down stairs along the carpet, to see my doctor.
They checked me into hospital at the beginning of January 2009 and I knew going in that I wasn’t going to be leaving any time soon. They started me on the standard MS therapy, a high dose of Steroids for three days. I was not responding – so they continued for a total of five days. But I still could not move.
Hitting rock bottom
I was moved into rehab at Epworth Richmond in Melbourne and the work began. I stayed for two months. I hit rock bottom, I had to ask myself “Am I ever going to walk again?” I was stretched to my limits emotionally and physically, beyond normal comprehension and everything stopped.
One day, I remember sitting in my wheelchair in my rehab session, working hard, trying to make my fingers open and close, with tears running down my face, because it was so hard! And so in that moment I just decided. I awakened. I was either going to give up now or I was going to tackle this head on!
The road to recovery
So I did what I knew, I worked hard. I was first in at physiotherapy and the last to leave. I was a woman on a mission – three sessions a day five times a week.
I had to learn how to use my hand again. I was taught all over again how to pick things up and I had to learn how to walk again. You don’t know what you are capable of in times like this. A switch turned on inside of me, and I channelled my rock bottom moment into pure drive to fight. I was determined to leave hospital not only walking, but running!
I left there running. It wasn’t the most graceful of runs. I won’t win medals for it. It definitely was an awkward looking run. But I did it.
How I got better
It wasn’t just me, far from it. I had an amazing team of people who helped me. These people made me believe that I could do it. They stood with me when I couldn’t stand and helped me get to where I am today. I was blessed. I had Physio’s, Speech Therapists, Counsellors, Occupational Therapists, Neurologists, a Kinesiologist, family and friends. I could not have come through this with the courage and determination that I had, if it had not have been for my loving supportive family and friends, in particular my twin sister Nicole.
Week by week I started to get movement back in my toes and fingers, then arms and legs and my face. I started to walk with a foot brace. Then I progressed to walking with my knee taped up, to walking on my own. And those first few steps to freedom were… indescribable.
As horrific as it was (the experience of paralysis), it was equally as joyful taking those first few steps to walking again. I will forever be indebted to the exceptional Neuro-Physiotherapists at Epworth Richmond, Gavin Williams and also Shaun. Another special person that got me walking again in conjunction with the Physiotherapists, was an Applied Kinesiologist Dr Michael Bay.
Clean bill of health
One year on I now have full function back in my body. This inspired me to go back to college to study for a Diploma in Sports Kinesiology. I learned the language of anatomy, physiology and Chinese Medicine. It allowed me to start to unravel the complexities of Autoimmune Disease.
Taking a balanced approach of Eastern with Western Medicines, addressing my nutrition, stress levels and my state of mind helped me maintain my results so much I have now dedicated my life to helping others recover from illnesses or setbacks in life.
My MS has been dormant for the past seven years now.
Today, I wear a few hats in my new career of Health and Complimentary Medicine. I am an Ambassador for MS Limited (Australia), Sports Kinesiologist and Motivational Speaker.
Amanda Campbell’s story features in a new health series, Recover/Me. In each episode of the series, produced by Know My Health, an everyday person is turned into a battling hero due to a health issue or a life event. The show also looks into health treatments available that many may not be aware exist.