Australia Multiple sclerosis diagnosis does not faze central Queensland police officer

23:55  19 march  2020
23:55  19 march  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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a person posing for the camera: Sergeant Julia Henderson wants people to know an MS diagnosis does not have to © Provided by ABC NEWS Sergeant Julia Henderson wants people to know an MS diagnosis does not have to "rule your world". (ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler) Sergeant Julia Henderson was told she would have two years left in the police service after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009 — but she still wears her uniform with pride.

Sergeant Henderson was 30 when she left the corporate world to join the police service.

She was a working mother of three with a mortgage, studying a diploma of justice (as a prerequisite), working another casual job to pay for the diploma, and training to ensure she would pass the physical tests.

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Sergeant Henderson graduated from the academy in 2007 and two years later was diagnosed with MS — a disease that affects the central nervous system and consequently most functions of the mind and body.

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"It was like the rug got pulled out from underneath me," she said.

"It started gradually — I lost a bit of feeling in my knee as a result of some really mild trauma to it, but then the numbness travelled to my whole legs and then up my torso.

"In most of my body I had really limited feeling and I had pins and needles.

"I started losing my balance."

Over a period of about six weeks, her condition deteriorated.

"I just kept going back to the doctor and they didn't know what was wrong with me," she said.

Eventually, Sergeant Henderson was sent to a neurologist who made the diagnosis.

"I certainly thought for me it was the end of my career when I was first diagnosed and I was really sad about it," she said.

"It took me probably six months to come to grips with my diagnosis after feeling like a superhero and then being told that I was going to slowly become more ill over time.

"But it doesn't mean the end of the world."

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Multiple sclerosis , or MS, is a long-lasting disease that can affect your brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves in your eyes. Others will have trouble getting around and doing daily tasks. MS happens when your immune system attacks a fatty material called myelin, which wraps around your nerve

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Slowing life down

Sergeant Henderson had been working in general duties on the Gold Coast for four years, but her neurologist suggested a change of pace if she wanted to keep working.

In 2011, Sergeant Henderson and her husband Garry decided to move with their three sons, Liam, Gabriel, and Nick, to Emerald in Central Queensland.

"I started doing general duties there and then I was just really lucky and I got to relieve down here for a while at the PCYC and I fell in love with it," she said.

An opportunity opened for Sergeant Henderson to become the permanent branch manager and she has not looked back.

"After spending those years reacting to crime it was really great to be proactive about it and work with young people in difficult circumstances to try and help them get back on track," she said.

"It is completely different to general duties policing. But the helping of the community, it's really hard to describe how that fills you up on the inside, it makes you feel great.

"It's probably the best job I've ever had in my life; I can't imagine doing anything different."

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Making those diagnoses , and helping patients cope with the disease, has been a uniquely acquired skill In his new book “ Multiple Sclerosis from Both Sides of the Desk,” Macaluso writes about this For patients like Tierney, Macaluso’s example of being able to do just that also sets his practice apart

Queensland Police Service, Brisbane, Queensland , Australia. 979,413 likes · 48,167 talking about this. Do not use this page to report a crime. Queensland Police Media administer this page to provide important public safety and public interest

Managing MS

For a person with MS, living and working in regional Queensland comes with its own challenges.

"I have to manage fatigue because of my condition and also Emerald is really hot, which certainly impacts upon me," she said.

"I have to take on board what my weaknesses are and put strategies in place for them.

"For example, drinking cold water, have a cold towel, wash my face if I need to while trying to look strong and not hold anybody up because I like to think I can still do everything."

This means most of her days off are spent resting — though Sergeant Henderson tries not to dwell on the difficulties.

"That was almost like a challenge for my doctor to say [I had two years left in the service], because I've obviously stayed in a lot longer than they originally thought," she said.

"I have to attribute a lot of that to the Queensland Police Service who've been really supportive of me throughout this experience."

Knowing what you are feeling is not unusual

Sergeant Henderson said staying positive, surrounding herself with supportive people, having a great neurologist, and staying well in other parts of life helped her cope.

"Try not to spend too much time researching on the internet all the things that could go wrong," she said.

"Reach out to somebody else … it helps me to talk to other people with MS as well, so the things that I'm feeling, I know, aren't unusual.

"It's a pretty strange kind of disease because so many different things can happen to you, so talking to others with MS will certainly help to make you feel more normal."

Sergeant Henderson flies to Brisbane every three months to see her neurologist.

"That is part and parcel of living out here, that we have to travel in order to see our specialists," she said.

"It has been worth it. It's like living in a big family out here in this town."

The 44-year-old said she could not thank her husband, mother, family, and the Emerald Community enough.

"I was very lucky to have them all and their support," she said.

"I have to get an infusion every six months … and my nurse at the hospital, Annette, is just the most amazing person.

"Try not to let it ruin your life and rule your world. It's not the end."

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