MS Awareness Week: Letchworth woman on life with an incurable condition

Stephanie Baker with her husband Nigel

Stephanie Baker with her husband Nigel - Credit: Archant

To mark a national awareness week an MS sufferer talks to the Comet about living with an incurable illness.

MS Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, aims to inform people about multiple sclerosis – a condition which disrupts the nervous systems’ ability to communicate with the body’s muscles.

Stephanie Baker, of Garth Road in Letchworth GC, was first diagnosed with the condition at the age of 27 when she was working as a barrister.

The 68-year-old former magistrate has said that as a result of the condition she is unable to walk unaided and cannot perform simple tasks like doing up buttons and making cups of tea.

She said: “I was diagnosed in my 20s when I lost the use of my left arm and was admitted to hospital. Shortly afterwards I went temporarily blind in my left eye.

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“In my mid 30s I had to stop working for six months because I couldn’t see the judge sitting right in front of me.

“When I was younger I used to fully recover and then get on with my life but since my 50s the problems have become more permanent.

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“Now I have trouble walking and cannot lift my feet properly.

“I’m always in fear of stumbling and slipping so I use a wheelchair if I go out.

Mrs Baker’s husband Nigel, 71, a QC, and their son Robert, 35, an accountant, provide most of her care which includes getting dressed and preparing meals.

She added: “One of the worst things I find is the loss of independence. It is awful not being able to move about.

“MS affects my balance so I often smash my head and end up in hospital needing stitches.

“Last Autumn, when my husband was on holiday, I hit the back of my head and needed to go to hospital. It was awful but luckily my friend was with me who managed to deal with the whole situation incredibly well.

“I find it really frustrating because I do not like not being able to do things.

“You get really nervous about falling and not just for you but for the people around you who will have to see and deal with it.

“In spite of this I still believe that if you can, it’s best to fight MS as much as possible.

“I’m very lucky that I have got a fantastic husband and son who help me with everything.”

Mrs Baker regularly uses the Herts MS Therapy Centre, based in Letchworth GC and home to an oxygen chamber, to help her cope with her condition.

Chief executive officer Mark Boscher said: “Stephanie is one example among many of people who are living a better quality of life because of making use of the therapies available at the Herts MS Therapy Centre.”

As part of the awareness week, the centre is holing an open day on Saturday May 17 between 10am and 1pm at its offices in 30 Campus Five.

The MS Trust, a national charity also based in Letchworth GC which provides information and support, has organised the awareness week and is encouraging people to ‘Be Bold in Blue’ for the cause.

Among those wearing blue to promote MS on Friday will be staff at Marks and Spencer in Hitchin, which has chosen the MS Trust for its charity of the year.

For more information about the awareness week or MS in general visit or call 0800 032 3839.

To make a £2 donation to the cause text BLUE21 £2 to 70070.

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