Of course, due to the Covid Pandemic, for the past few years the Conference has been held online. Instead of being in The Room together, people from all over the world have been watching from the comfort of their own homes. It has certainly made the Conference more accessible, with no need to travel or deal with the complications of trying to get to the venue. Added to this is joy of being able to wear your PJs while tuning into expert speakers, is hard to beat!
This year the MS Ireland Conference is being held this Saturday 19th November (registration link). There are some fantastic speakers lined up and topics include:
- MS & Brain Fog
- Smouldering MS
- MS and Pregnancy
- MS & Fatigue
- MS & Continence
I have my day planned, my spot on the sofa booked, and enough snacks lined up to keep me going all day. I’m looking forward to learning, and maybe finding out more about my own MS.
Practically, I think it’s great to use Zoom but at the risk of sounding like a moaner, it's just not the same. I didn’t realise until this year just how much I miss the people and the social side of the conference. Typically, the MS and Me blogging team would have an opportunity to catch up in-person. We’d have lunch together, with food that would often go cold while we chatted and laughed and commiserated with each other. We’d split into smaller groups to go to the various talks, comparing notes later. We’d catch up on our lives, share our news and enjoy the simplicity of just being together.
I miss seeing familiar faces of people I have had the pleasure and privilege to meet over the years. The MS community is unlike any other I’ve been part of, and in my experience the
Conference helps to promote that feeling of inclusion. You see, at MS events, WE are the majority. How lovely, how powerful it is to be in a room where most people ‘get it’. To have nobody bat an eyelid if you have a shaky hand or if your balance is off. To have someone nod along as you have a moan about fatigue, without them saying “I’m tired too, I was up late”. If you run out of words mid-sentence, they know that when the brain fog clears, you’ll be back. I’ve seen others compare their wheelchairs and mobility aids with a similar enthusiasm of children comparing their bikes. The gentle consolation from people understanding if your latest news isn’t good. They Just Get It.
MS Ireland Conferences always gave me more than I realised. Through Covid-tinted glasses, I can now see that physically being together was so important. I’d come home exhausted but buzzing, ready to go again. Until we can get together, I really recommend that you tune in to the conference on Saturday. You never know what you might learn and who you might ‘meet’. I’d recommend it to friends and family too – often topics cross into other areas of life and apply to a wider audience.
To my MS pals – I look forward to seeing you all again soon. Hopefully in 2023 we’ll be back in The Room, chattering until our jaws hurt, telling all the tales we’ve stored up over these years! It’s going to be wonderful. I won’t take it for granted any more.
The MS Ireland National Conference will take place this weekend, on Saturday 19th November from 10 am to 4.30pm. It will be held online, using Zoom, and everyone is welcome to register here.