A Galashiels multiple sclerosis sufferer is pushing herself to the limit in the water this autumn in a bid to support the charity that has supported her for over a decade.
And while Natalie Brown admits that her challenge might, at first, sound a little feeble to the average person over the age of eight, it will be no easy feat for the 34-year-old.
“I have set myself a task to swim one length in all six Live Borders pools in aid of the Borders MS Society,” she explained.
“As a wheelchair user with very limited mobility, this is more challenging than it may first appear.
“Swimming used to be effortless prior to MS, but now I don’t have that ease with very heavy limbs from increased tone. Swimming is a challenge. I will use a noodle to help me stay afloat but will be entirely self-propelled.”
Natalie, previously a nurse in Glasgow’s Beatson Oncology Centre, was struck down suddenly and severely by MS in 2006 when, aged 23, she found herself in an induced coma. Having lost the ability to speak, swallow, stand and walk, it was a long road to recovery which included three months in Edinburgh’s Western General and nine months rehabilitation at its Astley Ainslie Hospital.
“I can now eat and drink normally, but my speech remains severely affected, which is a struggle for everyone, especially when I still want to chat a lot but can’t really,” Natalie said.
Now living back in Galashiels with her parents Anne and George Brown, Natalie is giving something back to the Borders MS Society after it introduced her to riding for the disabled and a range of other exercises, all of which she credits with improvements to her mobility and fitness.
She added: “The Borders MS Society made contact with my mum and dad even before I left hospital and let them know they were not alone and that people were around to share experiences and provide support.
“The group has been so important in bringing me back from a very low starting point. I know that if I hadn’t had that help, I wouldn’t have achieved or improved so much, so this is in the hope that the group can carry on the great work and help many more who have been as unfortunate as I was.”
Natalie has raised £2,089 so far and will swim her last length on Monday, December 4, at Selkirk’s pool.
To make a donation, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/natalie-brown-swim
She is filming each swim for FaceBook (Natalie Rose Brown) and Twitter (@Natalie_R_Brown).