FIGHTING BACK: MS sufferer Veva Pocock with Lucy Wilson from BodySmart Health.
FIGHTING BACK: MS sufferer Veva Pocock with Lucy Wilson from BodySmart Health. Ashleigh Howarth

Gran's brave first steps after devastating health blow

WALKING down the sand to the ocean seems like an easy task, but when you suffer from a debilitating disease like Multiple sclerosis (MS) it is a challenging task.

It's been years since Ipswich grandmother Veva Pocock has felt the salty water on her feet, but she is determined to increase the strength in her legs so she can walk unaided to the water's edge.

Mrs Pocock was diagnosed with MS when she was in her 30s. It is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves.

After her diagnosis, the former childcare worker said she was scared as to what her future would hold.

"I was living in Redcliffe at the time and I used to walk down to the lagoon with my sister-in-law every morning where we would do some exercise,” she said.

"One morning I was down there by myself and I thought I was having a stroke. I had tight pain in my legs and around my waist.

"Like doctors do, they told me to take panadol.

"Then one doctor told me something wasn't right and sent me off for scans.

"That's when they diagnosed me with MS.

"It was terrifying at first because I had never heard of MS before.”

The diagnosis changed her life completely. She had to give up her job as she painstakingly lost her independence. Depression also began to set in.

"I looked down at my pill box and saw all the medication I was having to take and I just became so depressed,” she said.

"I wasn't able to walk by myself after the diagnosis. I was using a motorised scooter and I had to always have something to hold on to.

"I was having a lot of trouble lifting my feet and I was having quite a few falls. With me and my MS, my brain doesn't tell my feet to move, so I really have to concentrate on the task.”

For 18 years Mrs Pocock continued to live in pain, but in February this year she started becoming more physically active to help build her strength.

She started doing hydrotherapy and exercise sessions a few times a week.

In seven months, Mrs Pocock has built enough strength in her legs and her back that she can now walk unaided.

"I can also lift my legs above my head at a 90 degree angle and my balance is a lot better,” the 56-year-old said.

Mrs Pocock's physical psychologist Lucy Wilson said she was in awe of her determination to try and beat the odds.

"Veva is one of the most hard-working people I have ever met. Even if she can't do something at first, she will go home and work on it and when she returns she will happily say 'look what I can do',” she said.