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Spencer

Categories: Stronger Together , Beneficiaries

SPENCER

At just 38 years old, Infantry Officer Spencer Bull was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). On the same day he received the news that his wife was pregnant with his third son.

As his condition deteriorated, Spencer eventually had to give up the career he’d given 30 years to, and for the last two years he’s been a full time wheelchair user. His MS brings daily challenges for both him and his family, but with your support they find the strength to face them, together.

“Imagine putting ski gloves on and tying your feet together, then trying to live your life. That’s the best way I can describe what having Multiple Sclerosis (MS) feels like.

“On the day I was diagnosed in 2005, we found out my wife was pregnant with our third son. I remember being told I could end up in a wheelchair. I felt angry because I didn’t understand the situation or know what it meant for me or my family. I also didn’t want to say anything because I was scared of what might happen to my job.

“But my condition gradually deteriorated and eventually, in 2017, I was medically discharged. Those years in between were the most difficult for me and my wife, by a long way. I chose not to speak about it, which made her feel very isolated. When you have MS, it affects the whole family.

“I’ve been a fulltime wheelchair user for six years now, and every day I face a new challenge. If it takes the average person a minute to get dressed, it takes me five, because I’ve lost the dexterity in my fingers. Then there’s leaving the house to go somewhere; I have to think ‘how will I get there? Where will I stop to go to the loo? Is the location accessible in a wheelchair?’ All seemingly normal, everyday tasks suddenly take time and planning.

“I’ve got three very active boys, and I’ve never been able to kick a ball about with them. As a father I find that really difficult to get my head around. In the early days they didn’t understand why, and it was hard to carry that.

“The support from Help for Heroes definitely makes life better for us all. Having always been active, MS left me feeling like something had been ripped away. But through H4Hs I’ve been introduced to adaptive sport, and that’s helped me discover what I can do, rather than what I can’t.

“I’ll never forget being at the Invictus Games in 2018. I never dreamt I could sail again, but there I was, competing on Sydney harbour. Since then, I’ve been able to get on the water with my son. If he’d asked me to go sailing when I’d just been diagnosed, I’d have said I couldn’t do it – the charity made me realise I could.

“Even supporting us with day-to-day things, like walking the dog, has helped massively. Being in a wheelchair left me unable to join the family on dog walks, which really affected me because I felt like I was missing out on time with them. The charity helped me get a mobility scooter and now, just to be able to get out with my wife, kids and dog means so much to us all.

“My wife has also joined the H4H Band of Sisters Fellowship group, where she can spend time talking to others supporting their loved ones. It helps her to know that the charity is here for us all whenever we need it.

“Today, managing MS has become like riding a bike - now I understand it, I can hop on and crack on. The support I’ve been given has helped me take ownership of my future, even though I know it holds more uncertainty.  It gives me and my family the skills and tools to tackle whatever daily challenges we face together.”

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