Valley Friends – April Report

From Joan Steel

Coping with Multiple Sclerosis

Annette Abraminka, our speaker, has been confined to a wheelchair for 21 years yet is positive enthusiastic, incredibly brave and optimistic as well as charismatic.  The youngest of four children whose parents were hoteliers in Dorset, Annette married twice, has two children and four grandchildren, all living in America, and she is now widowed.  At the age of 18 years Annette went for nursing training at St. Thomas’ Hospital then went to work for Americans in Germany where she lived for 27years.

Annette explained that MS is difficult to diagnose because it is so variable, even from hour to hour.  It affects every patient in many different ways.  The nerve covering is damaged causing difficulty with movement, thinking, talking, eating, breathing etc., and walking becomes very wobbly. It is different for everyone.  Some patients have no visible symptoms and some become depressed.

Annette’s first decision following her diagnosis was to take all the drugs and do physiotherapy, plus every treatment available, but after some time she decided to stop all the drugs and just have the physiotherapy. She feels better now than she did fourteen years ago, but does not recommend her treatment to everyone. The only treatment she now has is hyperbaric oxygen treatment which improves fatigue levels, mobility, numbness, tingling and tremors.  She receives this treatment at the Chilterns Multiple Sclerosis Centre which is run as an independent charity.  Annette is involved in the day-to-day running of the Centre and is surely a huge inspiration to all the patients.

The Centre assists in enabling patients to take part in many inspiring activities and adventures.  Annette’s advice is to be active within your own community, think about others and learn to do everything. She herself has written articles and poetry and made a CD which she played for us.  Life becomes very precious and her words were ‘Dare to dream and sail with the wind’.  Through the charity Annette has had the opportunity to learn to sail on several occasions on the Lord Nelson where a mixed ability crew have been trained to do almost all that is necessary to sail the ship. Courage is needed to do this.  The course requires living on the ship for a period of time and patients’ confidence is built up with this training which is for all ages.  Annette says that she hasn’t run out of challenges or dreams; her great sense of humour and optimism has carried her and other patients through many difficulties.  She frequently travels to see her family in America but has decided not to be a responsibility to them by living there or near them.  Annette answered questions and showed us literature, then was thanked warmly for her inspiring talk.

Contact details for the Chilterns MS Centre are:
Tel:  01296 696133 or online at
Address:  Oakwood Close, Wendover, Bucks. HP22 5LX.

The Valley Friends’ next meeting is on 6th May when the speaker is Barrie Twyman on ‘The Work of an Auctioneer’. On 18th May we have an evening local ramble – all welcome.

Workaid.  On 2nd July between 10am and 12 noon at Hughenden Valley Village Hall car park, Valley Friends have arranged a collection of unwanted items which can be repaired to send to Africa to provide practical aid and help transform the lives of some of those in need. Some suggested items are: old tools, sewing machines, mowers, bicycles, etc. For more information phone 01494 775220, or online at or write to The Old Boot Factory, 71 Townsend Road, Chesham, HP5 2AA.