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‘’I had spent years looking for work and struggling with job interviews. My lack of real success had meant I spent years longer at University and had worked for myself. Then I decided on a whim to try Baclofen, a muscle relaxant I thought may help my Cerebral Palsy, but I really had little idea what to expect. I had been reluctant to try it as I had faced some opposition from some people, like a past physiotherapist saying, it would not be suitable for me and that when I got a prescription from my GP, I was not sure what was best. I recall that first evening. I took the smallest dose just before bed and as I felt myself swallow the small pill, my feet, that were normally on tip toe, were flat for the first time. I felt quite emotional. I realised for the first time how heavy and painful my legs had felt and my walking looked more normal. I was quite shocked. But it is not that simple, the muscles in my foot were so weak and unused that walking outside became more challenging than ever. For the first time, things appeared better than they were, so people did not realise the extent of my difficulties with tasks like walking outside and managing curves or uneven surfaces. I got a new physiotherapist and worked hard. It was not an easy option.
I also tried FES, a device that also improved my walking that I use with the Baclofen a lot, but it is hard work. After only a couple of weeks or less of taking Baclofen, I applied for a couple of jobs and was called for an interview. I recall that the change in my walking made me feel more confident. Unexpectedly, the medication had the side effect of really reducing also my extremely severe Hyperhidrosis that had plagued me for years, with extremely sweating hands, making shaking hands at interviews very awkward!
I recall walking into the building very aware of my walking and balance and really worried as I was not used to my new walking style. I had had past negative experiences, including falling over in front of the interview panel!
This time, I struggled as was often the case, with the questions, especially as I had focused so much on just walking into the building but it went well. I did not get that role but they recommend a different role. I went on to apply for it and actually got it! It was amazing! I applied and still use Access to Work and get a taxi to work, just paying what it would cost on public transport. The job has given me so much more confidence over time and I’m much more accepting of myself and of help I need, like, I now use a Mobility Scooter out and about when needed. Before the Baclofen, I could, however, manage okay most the time outside. Now, I need more help, like using a walker outside on the way in and out of work. I don’t like it, but I accept it. Sometimes it is hard to know what the best option is, but with the Baclofen, for example, I don’t have the Hyperhidrosis and I have much less pain, as well as my walking looking good inside. It took time to get used to it and to start, it was hard to walk.’’