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Am I an idiot?

Quite possibly… So the facts are these - I have CIS since June this year. The symptoms I’ve always had are dizziness, unsteadiness, fatigue. Some other things have briefly come and gone. For the past 3 or 4 weeks I’ve had really bad muscle spasms, typically during sleep. Sometimes I’ve even woken up talking, which is odd. My original symptoms have been worse than ever. I also seem to have strange muscular impulses I can’t control. I can start falling away to the left while walking, my left leg feels weak and I’ve also noticed an odd tingling sensation in my left arm when I turn my head whilst walking. Restless legs and arms are another thing I’ve noticed in this time whilst tired. The possibilities - maybe it’s to do with stress? I have a lot of things going on at the moment and a lot of uncertainties. Maybe this is temporary and will settle back down. Alternatively, and more worryingly, could this be my first relapse? No doubt what I should probably do is visit a doctor and/or speak to my MS nurse, but there are complications with this… In the next few weeks I’m going to apply for a spouse visa for Australia. Part of this process involves a medical and it seems that people with MS have virtually no chance of succeeding. Seeing as my current diagnosis is CIS with no medication or treatment, I’m much more likely to be granted a visa. If I go back to my MS nurse, there’s a chance she might again refer me to the neurologist for more scans and tests, and maybe I will then be diagnosed with MS therefore ending my hopes to move to Australia. I obviously don’t want this to happen, so I’m basically ignoring everything, trying to stay positive and relaxed and hoping it all passes over. So back to my original question - am I being an idiot for doing this? What would you do in my situation? Thanks in advance - Matt.

Hi Matt, hmmm…this is a real poser of a question indeed.

I think if it was me and my urge to go to Australia was a strong one, then I wouldnt want my current diagnosis to be changed to one that Australia will not allow me in for.

If you ask for meds to help with the spasms, eg baclofen. I think you`d have to see a neuro to get it prescribed…unless your MS nurse can arrange that or advise you on it.

I imagine your stress levels are working overtime with the hope of emigrating. This could be exacerbating (just checked the spelling and got it right!) your symptoms.

If and when you do move to Os, have you checked out the medical rules there?

Dunno if any of this has helped…it`s a toughie!

pollx

Thanks for your thoughts Boudica. To be honest I can probably deal with the symptoms as they are - but unless I get put on DMDs, I think there’s the chance they could get worse? In Australia, similar to here, the health service is paid for by the government. I would no doubt need to find a specialist and learn more about any different protocols. But even if I do get the first visa, I still have to not be diagnosed with MS for 2 years before I apply for a permanent residence. Feel a bit like I’m gambling with my own health.

Oh dear Matt. What a decision. I don’t envy you.

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of hours. There must be a lot of people who get diagnosed once they actually arrive in Australia. Many people have MS without knowing they have it for quite a while so there may be lots of people applying to emigrate to the country without knowing they have MS.

I suppose it all depends how fast you feel you are progressing. It is difficult because a lot of the symptoms are probably elevated because of the stress of it all. Once it is all sorted hopefully everything will settle down a bit.

I am so sorry I don’t have a quick answer for you.

I really hope that you make the right decision for you.

Take care.

Shazzie x

Thanks Shazzie. No need to apologise - I don’t think there is a right answer. I am just hoping someone with more experience than me can tell me what they might do in my circumstances. I wonder if I can speak to my MS nurse without anything going ‘on record’ as such.

I think this is quite a bit more complex than whether you can just keep quiet and still go to Australia.

Probably, yes. But what happens when you get out there? Let’s say your illness gets worse: do new arrivals get instant access to public healthcare, or do you have to have lived and/or worked there a certain length of time before you qualify? If you had to pay for healthcare, could you?

The same with benefits. Were you planning to work in Australia? If you can’t, because you’re sick, will you get anything at all? Or will you be completely dependant on your spouse’s income? If the latter, is it enough for you both to live on, or do your plans all hinge on the assumption you’d be working?

Finally, it might be a non-decision, because they might still regard CIS as a bad risk anyway. I’ve no idea what the rules are, but if they’re aimed at excluding people whose health means they’re likely to need state help, CIS may already be seen as a red flag. No, it doesn’t mean you WILL go on to develop MS, but if someone is having to place bets on whether you’ll need help while you’re out there, it might not be something they’re willing to chance. What’s the point of the health screening, if they’re going to ignore known risk factors? Although you can answer honestly that you’ve not been diagnosed with or treated for MS, I can’t think recent history won’t come out. And because it’s recent, it leaves a bigger question mark. If you’d had CIS 20 years ago, but nothing has happened since, it would actually look safer than if you’ve had it this year, but nobody knows yet whether it means anything.

On the question of whether you’re jeopardising your health, I might have a slightly different perspective to most. I’d take the view that as MS is a lifelong illness anyway, delaying medical intervention by perhaps a few weeks is unlikely to have massive implications for the long-term prognosis. I think the much bigger risk is finding yourself out in Australia, health deteriorating dramatically, but you find you’re not entitled to any assistance.

Tina

x

Thanks Tina. With regards to access to healthcare, yes I would be entitled straight away with a spouse visa. Benefits, if applicable, I could only claim after I’m granted permanent residence, which depends among other things, on passing the medical again. I’m working full time right now and that is my aim over there too. If things took a turn for the worst I think my support network will actually be better in Australia with my girlfriend’s family than here with my own. Certainly financially we would be far more secure there. I worry about whether CIS is enough for the medical officer to deny my visa application. There is a calculation which they use that is along the lines of if my healthcare would cost over $31000 in 5 years or is a treatment in high demand then this is grounds for refusal. This is based on current treatments or known factors. Still, no advisors have been able to confidently tell me it won’t be an issue. It’s possible I guess that my medical exam might lead to me being told they want full MRI, bloods, spinal tap etc. And the only way I can find out is by spending the best part of £4000 on the application! This definitely is a big source of stress for me! But it is my dream and giving up on it would feel like giving up on any kind of happiness.

And I guess I must have accidentally ticked the ‘anon’ box somehow. Damn fiddly iPhones!

Hi Matt Wow what a tough question. Tina has raised some very sensible issues but what really struck me was your response. Your heart is so clearly in it, you must try. If you don’t you will regret it, and could well have missed your chance. Best case scenario - you get the visa, you don’t have ms (or not for another 2 years at least), you live happily ever after. Other options: 1. You don’t try and always wonder what if… 2. You try and fail the medical - well you did what you could, the up side is you can then seek treatment here knowing that a diagnosis won’t affect your future plans either way 3. You try, pass the medical, and then get MS dx soon after arriving. Well at least you’d get some time out there - spouse would get to spend good time with family etc, and then you both move back when you have to - still better than option 1. Don’t you deserve a shot at the best case scenario? Get on with it though, time may be of the essence! Hth, good luck whatever you decide Clare

Thanks Clare, I am sure I’m going to try, whatever happens. If I do get rejected, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next, though.