A woman with multiple sclerosis who was told by doctors she might never be able to use her right hand again has successfully completed a hairdressing course.
Pamela Miller, 55, was diagnosed with the condition that causes problems with mobility, balance and vision in 1998, and was later considered unemployable by Job Centre Plus.
This summer she passed a Level 2 Certificate in Cutting Hair at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) and now hopes to start her own hairdressing business.
She said: “I’ve never been a quitter and really enjoyed the course. The teacher inspired me and others in the class by making it fun to learn. It’s given me so much more confidence.”
Pamela noticed early signs of MS in early 1995, including a problem with her eye and a tingling sensation in her spine, but was she not diagnosed until three years later.
During this time and in the years that followed she regularly attended hospital for tests after having relapses of these symptoms and increasing problems with her mobility.
Pamela said: “In 2005 I had a relapse and my hand had ended up in a claw-like state. Because I could barely hold a pen, the doctor told me that I needed to try using my left hand because I would never be able to use my right hand again.”
Despite being placed on steroids her condition worsened and she suffered a severe relapse about a year later that badly affected her legs.
“My whole right side had gone numb and then I was having problems with my left side where I had never had problems before.” She said.
“The doctors said, you will never be able to do this, you will never be able to do that, but I suppose that just pushed me to prove them wrong,”
Pamela persistently turned down a wheelchair but now needs a walking frame and an electronic devise that stimulates her muscles to enable to help her get around.
She puts her determination down to her mother who carried on with her life despite suffering and later passing away from pancreatic cancer.
MS affects around 100,000 people in the UK and is most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s or 30s, with women more likely to be affected than men.
Tutor Elaine Patterson said: “Pamela has been an inspiration to those around her. She is always trying to help everybody and is a fantastic role model.
“She would come in, put her walking frame to one side and that’s where her MS stayed until the end of the class. Sometimes I’d forget she has MS because she’d behave as if nothing was up and carry on without complaint.
“She thought she wouldn’t be able to do it, but she has a natural ability and a real determination about her. What she has achieved and the progress she has made has made is phenomenal.”
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