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MS sufferer Jo has recipe to help others

MS sufferer Jo Dunnett says her horse Winkle has helped her overcome her health issues ANL-161204-154310009
MS sufferer Jo Dunnett says her horse Winkle has helped her overcome her health issues ANL-161204-154310009

What she initially thought were hangover symptoms turned out to be a devastating illness for Sudbury mum Jo Dunnett, 39.

After suffering numbness in her legs, Jo ended up in accident and emergency - and didn’t come out of hospital for six weeks.

She couldn’t walk and had problems seeing. Enduring a barrage of tests, which included a number of lumbar punctures and four brain scans, she was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

“I’d had a very severe riding accident when I was 14 so I assumed the numbness was something to do with that and a spinal injury,” she said.

“At first, they couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. They thought it was a virus. I remember the day so clearly when the consultant told me I had MS and, at the age of 26, my life changed.

“I had to give up my job and I went through two years of hell with mood swings, not wanting to live, and not knowing what to do. You end up grieving for the life you’ve lost,” she said.

Jo, who lives in Ballingdon Gardens, has lived with the condition, which affects the central nervous system and damages the coating around the nerve fibres, for 13 years.

There are different types of the condition and she has MS with remitting relapsing symptoms, which means she suffers five to six relapses a year.

Since her diagnosis, she has met her partner Matt – whose brother also has MS – and they have had two children, Charlie, four and Daisy, two-and-a-half.

She has also started a business, Body Boost, which is focused on healthy eating and provides what she calls clean eating programmes to other MS sufferers.

She is now helping around 40 MS sufferers in Sudbury and also further afield, including America, and regularly posts details of how she lives with MS, and its symptoms, on her Facebook page.

“I found a treatment which helped me and it’s all to do with diet and exercise. I have lost about nine stone over the past two years and am now much, much fitter.

“As it’s worked for me, I’ve been helping other people. Because MS is an autoimmune condition, it’s important to keep your immune system healthy. I am always looking for recipes to help people with gluten-free and diary-free options.

“I would definitely say that diet and excise are the key.

“I’ve been helping people with clean eating programmes for the past two years,” she added.

Jo has also found that her horse, called Winkle, who is 14 years old, has helped her a great deal, and she is a great believer in animal therapy.

She said: “My horse Winkle has been an absolute godsend. I’d only got him a few months before I became ill and he was being a bit of a pain to ride but with my illness he completely changed. He’s been such help for me. They say animals are good therapy.”

Jo suffers anxiety attacks and is bladder and bowel incontinent. However, rather than suffer in silence, she has been sharing the experiences of her MS symptoms – including one of her having a panic attack – on Facebook, to help others.

She added: “Since I’ve been posting videos, the response has been incredible.

“I’ve had other people telling they also suffer panic attacks, and haven’t told anyone. No-one should suffer in silence,” she said.

You can contact Jo via body boost2015@gmail.com

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