Never Say Never!, by JUDY ROSS BROWN, an Artist Living with Multiple Sclerosis

This article was written by Judy Ross Brown for “MSCONNECT making sense of ms in Scotland”, a magazine of the Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland, 2009. Its publication on DETOTSELSCOLORS has been authorized by Judy.

Never say never!, by Judy Ross Brown

I used to be a graphic designer until multiple sclerosis stopped me working. After coming to terms with my legs giving up the ghost, and getting to grips with wheelchair-use, frustration eventually got the better of me and I started drawing and painting again.

Unfortunately, a couple of years later my right arm joined my legs, and one again I was left feeling very low.

However, after much cursing, good old frustration eventually forced me to use my left hand. Before long I found I could write a shopping list and so, onwards and upwards, it wasn’t long before I was painting again.

However, my positive frame of mind didn’t last. I lost the use of my left hand some years later and I felt useless. After several truly dreadful attempts I became a mouth artist and took up watercolours.

After several years, worsening neuropathic pain in my legs and bottom stopped me from sitting, forcing me to lie prone for most of the day and night.

Through the media I became aware o computer technology, I already used a voice operated environmental control system and wondered if it would be possible to use this with computer drawing and painting packages I had seen on the telly. Always thinking that I would never master a computer, after much cursing, and wishing I had the use of my arms to hurl the flaming thing out of the window, I became able to write letters, e-mail and surf the internet. I got a graphics application and just played with it until I started understanding how it worked.

I use a speech package called Dragon Dictate. When I’m drawing or creating images, I simply tell the arrow to move in any direction. This replicates the movements of a mouse.

During my mouth painting years, I created a typeface, which was quite successful (currently used for the Ullapool News). A few years later the editors held a competition to design the front cover for the local telephone directory, I entered and to my surprise I won.

I’m sure there are a lot of disable folk out there who are oblivious to new technology and how it can be used to help and change their situation. It certainly gave me back a sense of direction and some independence.

Judy Ross Brown

Judy Ross Brown-painted by mouth

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Dear friends,

We are so pleased to welcome Judy and George Brown to DETOTSELSCOLORS. They are wonderful much-loved people.

Judy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) when she was very young, just in her early twenties. Since then, more than forty years have gone by.

At first, it was difficult for Judy to talk about it. However, her physical impairment was becoming evident. She had no choice but to share it with her loved ones and the people around her.

She tells me that today if her testimony can inspire and help other people affected by MS, she is happy to share it.

George, her husband, has been with her his whole life. When Judy was diagnosed with MS, they had no doubt about their love. They loved each other. They went on with their engagement, and they got married. Today, they are still together and happy.

George is a computer engineer by profession. He decided to give up his job a few years ago to devote himself entirely to looking after Judy. George is a cheerful, energetic and positive person. He marvels like a child at the simplest things in life. Everything awakens his interest and his will to learn and share it with others.

Both are elderly, and he keeps looking after her with great dedication and love. Despite living with her illness, Judy is healthy and has been making peace with her situation for many years. She tells me that she has hope because, without it, it would have been impossible to face every new day. Hope that research will help slow down the progression of the illness and that someday it will be a cure. Hope for better pain relief treatments without so many side effects.

In her own words, the illness has taught her to accept and appreciate every day as it comes; «because you never know what is around the corner». Although neuropathic pain is a constant presence in her life, she enjoys every moment and the small gifts of life, especially conversations, visits and company.

The physical situation that the illness has forced impacts hardness, but what really amazes me about Judy is her serenity, mental clarity, and mindful listening. All that leaves a print mark on everyone who meets Judy. Her sharp and thoughtful mind is her great ally. She is also grateful and has a genuine interest in others. Her spirit conveys wisdom and peace. Everyone who knows Judy learns from her.

We are immensely grateful for their friendship and generosity in sharing the article and pictures you will see below the text.

Elena Lorente Guerrero

3rd of October 2019

* * *

Judy Ross Brown-painted by mouth
Judy Ross Brown-painted by mouth
Judy Ross Brown-painted by mouth
Judy Ross Brown-painted by mouth
Judy Ross Brown-painted by left hand
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