A PASSION for gardening has helped a woman confront her multiple sclerosis.
Mum-of-two Dawn Dollery has spoken out about the therapeutic benefits of the pastime, after being diagnosed with the debilitating disease in 2013.
The teaching assistant and former apprentice florist, 42, says that horticultural therapy is ‘invaluable’ when coping with the symptoms of MS.
She said: ‘I feel nothing but tranquillity when I’m out with my flowers, and find gardening therapeutic when I am having a particularly rough day with my symptoms.
‘The relaxation and feeling of pride I get being in the soil has had such a big impact on my health and wellbeing.’
Dawn, who lives with her husband and two teenage children, started to notice numbness in her feet and a drag in her walk three years ago.
Following seven months of tests and GP visits, Dawn, from Portsmouth, was given a ‘relieving’ diagnosis of relapsing MS.
She said: ‘MS is so unpredictable. I finally had an explanation for all the strange things happening to me.
‘The numbness in my toes is still the strangest symptom.
‘I can’t feel the water when I go swimming. I often feel fatigued, get cramps and stiffness in my legs, and my fingers twitch in hot weather.’
Not even the hot summer weather could keep Dawn from the hobby she’s cultivated since she was 14.
With the help of her husband and a neighbour, Dawn’s garden was transformed to cater for the disease, which affects more than 100,000 people in the UK alone.
Dawn said: ‘My new garden has a patio, steps and a bannister to help me move around safely. I have slate flower beds so I don’t have to do any digging and all of my flowers are in pots so they’re easy to maintain.
‘I would recommend anyone with MS to take up gardening – the therapeutic benefits are truly invaluable.’