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A woman with a debilitating nervous system disease has returned to work in a wheelchair after the nurses who cared for her inspired her to return to the profession she loves.

Chiyomi Adachi, 49, is a nurse at Itami City Hospital in Hyogo Prefecture, where she helps patients arrange treatment after they have been discharged. In May, she won an essay contest by the Japan Nursing Association by writing about the nurses who cared for her.

The symptoms of Adachi’s condition had a sudden onset. One day, the Hyogo native found that her sight had deteriorated drastically and that her hands and legs were going numb.

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a serious disease that attacks the central nervous system. After being hospitalized in November 1998, her condition worsened.

Unable to accept the fact that she could no longer walk on her own, she repeatedly tried to get out of bed. Every time she fell out, she felt miserable, but one of the nurses came to lift her, saying, “You must have been scared. It must have been very hard for you.”

Adachi found herself looking back on her career and asked herself what she would have told patients in her position. That got her thinking of being a nurse again, if only to take care of other patients with MS.

After taking three years’ leave for hospitalization and rehabilitation, Adachi became a nurse again. Since she still suffers from numbness, weak grip and needs an injection every two days, Adachi will unlikely be able to help patients stand up. But empathy, she said, is a powerful helping hand.

“I believe I am able to understand how patients and their families feel because I myself was a patient going through a serious disease,” Adachi said.

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