“Have Harness, Will Travel”: Meet Nicole Jakubek

By Helen Russon

When Nicole developed tingling and numbness in her hands and feet, she went to the doctor. It took ten years for them to determine that she had MS.

You were finally diagnosed in 2005. How has MS impacted you?

I was not able to work after 2003. My fatigue was so bad that if I worked a couple of days I would be down for the same number of days. I finally went on Social Security Disability.

Who is “Lola” and how did she come into your life?

My physical therapist had suggested I look into getting a service dog for my balance. And then one day, my neighbor told me that her dog had just had puppies and she brought Lola over. I had never really wanted a dog, but it was love at first sight!

How has the National MS Society helped you with Lola?

Lola is now being trained as a service animal. My hope is that she and I will be able to literally “walk in tandem” and she can help support me—both physically and emotionally. But I needed a special harness for that and I couldn’t afford one, so I applied to the Oregon Chapter for a grant. And they gave it to me!

Do you have any suggestions for other people with MS?

If you can, get some physical therapy and build up your core muscles. Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you for help. And get off the couch – get yourself a “Lola” and get moving!

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CAN WE HELP YOU WITH EQUIPMENT, FINDING A PHYSICAL THERAPIST OR YOUR VERY OWN LOLA?

Please contact one of our friendly MS Navigators to learn more.

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Helen is an attorney who currently investigates civil rights complaints for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. She also teaches a course in disability law, which is a subject she understands from both an intellectual and personal level. Helen writes, reads and gardens as much as possible and, as she told us, “I love doing volunteer work for the chapter. 

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