For NDIS participant Belinda, an afternoon stroll with her husband seemed nothing more than a pipe dream not all that long ago.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis, the 41-year-old Melbourne mother of two’s continual decline had her lacking hope in a life she felt was “on pause”.
However, Belinda’s strolls around the block and beyond on her NDIS funded scooter is just one aspect of a new reality where she’s living her best life.
“I feel very fortunate to have gotten access to the things I need to make my life easier when my chronic illness is making my life harder,” Belinda said.
“In the last two years my symptoms have been worsening and I can’t move well, but with my scooter, I can go for a walk or go food shopping.
“It’s an outing for me, and the NDIS has been a huge blessing.”
It’s all a dream come true for Belinda, and a reality she never thought possible since pins and needles in her foot led to a life-changing diagnosis seven years ago.
Belinda’s days, once filled with balancing work as a beauty therapist, parenting and watching her husband coach soccer and her son play, were replaced with uncertainly, pain, and isolation.
“When I found out I had MS, I literally just went into denial,” Belinda said.
“I knew something was wrong, but at the same time, I didn’t want to know. I woke up one morning and I couldn’t move… it was the worst feeling in the world.
“I started to get a little better after two years, but had to stop the medication I was on, and I went downhill. I couldn’t go back to work as I can’t stand for long without feeling numb, and if I’m on a computer, the phone or have to read too much, I get dizzy.
“It’s frustrating as my mind still works fine, but my limbs don’t want to listen.”
While every day presents a challenge, Belinda said having the choice and control to use her funding to suit her needs has enabled her to restart her life.
Loving the freedom her scooter provides, Belinda also has other supports funded through the NDIS, which have changed her family’s life.
“We used to have to rely on my mum and dad for support, cooking and cleaning, and the walker I had prior to the NDIS was broken,” Belinda said.
“But my occupational therapist organised a new walker for me, and I also have a power chair which I get around on when my legs start to feel heavy.
“We have a hand rail from the garage into the house, and I have shower rails and a shower chair, a toilet commode, and an electric bed.
“I also have a physiotherapist that helps me with exercise and movement, a cleaner who comes weekly, and a lady that cooks meals for us.
“So, I honestly don’t know where I’d be without the NDIS, and my Local Area Coordinator Claire from Latrobe Community Health Service is an Angel, and has really helped me with getting on the right path.”
While Belinda hasn’t set any long-term goals, she has found renewed optimism.
Soaking up the sun on her afternoon walks, Belinda said she is happy to be looking towards her best possible future.
“My son is a bit traumatised through seeing me in pain and having accidents, so it’s important for him and my family to know that I’m ok,” she said.
“When I’m out on my scooter, I get fresh air and I’m mentally alert. I’ve still got a lot to live for, especially through the NDIS helping me.
“I know I’ve got this.”