When I did my doctoral research, several years ago, I chose to work with the Multiple Sclerosis community. I surveyed 300+ men and women who facilitated support groups for either the National MS Society or the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Although I don’t have MS I knew a few things about the condition and realized there were similarities in symptoms between my chronic health condition and MS. And, of course, MS is much more common than my rare disease so accessing a larger population was one of my goals.
I’ve met many people with MS in my life, one person who stands out is Michael Muir. He is the great-grandson of the famous naturalist, John Muir. Diagnosed with MS as a teenager, Michael Muir spreads his “fun is therapeutic” philosophy while making the horse ranch experience accessible to everyone. He started the organization, Access Adventure, to enrich “the lives of people with disabilities and other underserved members of our community by providing outdoor recreation, open space access, education and therapy, through a working partnership with horses.” To hear Michael’s story, you can listen to this podcast episode.
One of my first podcast episodes included an interview with Hazel Weiss. I met Hazel — diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1989 — many years ago when she and her service dog, Hams, came to present at my support group meeting. Her volunteer work with various organizations like Canine Companions brings her out into the community to meet with a variety of people who may benefit from the assistance of a service animal. Hazel talks about the role a service dog plays in her life in this podcast episode.
Gareth Walker, of northern England, works as a police officer and has progressive multiple sclerosis. His daily practice of mindfulness meditation enables him to navigate the physical and emotional difficulties of living with a chronic health condition. Mindfulness meditation has had such a profound impact on Gareth that he created a website and has a large Twitter following. Learn more about Gareth and his coping skills in this podcast episode.