I was diagnosed with MS over 20 years ago.
But I didn’t disclose it at first.
At the time I didn’t feel comfortable. I was working in a physical job, a job that I loved and a job I thought would be taken from me.
I carried on my duty serving the public and fighting crime, confiding in a few trusted team-mates – ones that I knew would understand and could take over when I had flare ups.
I still had a lot to give. I could still do my job and do it well. It was simple – I played to my strengths and had good support from family friends and colleagues. It was important that I kept control of the situation.
The ailments were minor in the first few years and the flare ups would come and go.
It wasn’t until I started needing to use a walking stick that I shared my condition, and it was then that I decided to become chair of the Disability Awareness Network for police officers and staff.
I made changes to the self-defence training manual to make sure everyone could continue to do the training regardless of ability, some of which was taken up nationally and I worked to amend the return to work policy.
The first signs that I had MS were when I scalded myself in the shower. The right hand side of me was completely numb but I was unaware until the water hit the left hand side of my body.
What was going on?
A while later I was in custody and couldn’t feel my right leg from the knee down. I mentioned it to the custody doctor – just a trapped nerve I thought. But she told me to come down to the surgery.
I went through the rigmarole of the doctor poking me with a pin in the leg to see if I could feel it. I closed my eyes as told. My right leg felt like she was just pushing my leg with her finger.
But she stuck the pin in my left leg and I almost kicked her!
There was blood running down my right leg but I hadn’t felt a thing. I had no feeling of the sharp sensation in my right side – it was clear there was a problem.
Brain scans and tests started and the process took over two years. It was a traumatic time not having a diagnosis – what was wrong with me?
It was bitter sweet when I was told. I was relieved that I knew what was wrong, but I was gutted.
MS is an illness that slowly erodes away your independence and physical ability.
But just because I have been diagnosed with MS doesn’t mean my life is over – and it is that I want others facing the same daily challenges as me to know.
Yes I don’t know what will face me when I wake up in the morning.
Can I feel my limbs? Have I lost control of my bowels? What will it be today?
But I have a lot of attributes desirable to others – my life isn’t over.
I took retirement from the police in 2010, after receiving the police officer of the year award – but my work didn’t end there.
I worked for a charity for vulnerable adults, as it is something I am very passionate about and the area I ended my career in policing in.
You have to be passionate to be effective in this area of work. You don’t have the same impact if you don’t live and breathe it.
It was an opportunity I grasped with both hands. Working on this side but taking my police experience with me means I can give broader understanding to victims.
It is fulfilling to deliver support outside of the judicial process.
I now work promoting the services on offer for people with disabilities and people affected by disability, and endeavour to offer them support. Building partnerships means a stronger support network.
I may be in a wheelchair but I am still very effective.
Retired police sergeant Simon Daize is now the Partnership Liaison Officer at the Bedfordshire Disability Resource Centre and the Northamptonshire Centre for Independent Living. His passion for safeguarding vulnerable victims has been transferred into his charity work since he retired. Simon is the lead for hate crime at the Disability Resource Centre and works with police to ensure people with a disability of any kind have a voice and the support they need.