However, all of that changed after she was admitted to hospital with burning sensations in her legs.
Louise spent six weeks undergoing many and varied tests, before being diagnosed with the uncommon neurological condition, which affects 1-8 people in one million.
Symptoms of TM can include pain, a sudden onset of muscle weakness or abnormal sensations in the toes and feet, paralysis, urinary retention and loss of bowel control, although these symptoms can be experienced gradually.
Louise said one of the most challenging parts of her TM diagnosis was trying to explain to her husband David and son Michael, then 15, as well as concerned relatives and friends, what it meant to have an illness that she herself didn’t understand.
“Our family dynamics changed,” Louise said.
“We used to do active things – skiing, camping, outdoorsy things. When I first got sick, I couldn’t do anything. Finding common ground for us to share activities again was difficult.
“But after a while I realised I could still go canoeing down the Brisbane River – not far and not huge distances away from home but it was possible.
“Over a period of time, you learn to adapt as things change. I stopped looking at what I couldn’t do and found things that I could, including new interests.”
Louise is one of the volunteer Facilitators for Spinal Life Australia’s Transverse Myelitis Network and provides information to newly-diagnosed people keen to talk to someone who understands.
“It’s enormously rewarding. It helps me get out of myself. I hear people say things I used to say,” Louise said.
Louise has also read widely about TM, and travelled to the US in 2010 and 2013 to attend the Rare Neuroimmunologic Symposium in Dallas, Texas, where she met people from around the world who have the condition.
Currently, Louise is investigating ways to establish regional TM networks in towns across Queensland in order for people with the condition to meet locals going through the same thing.
“Having that peer support and one-on-one contact with other people who have been through similar experiences is invaluable,” Louise said.
Spinal Life Australia Chief Executive Officer Bruce Milligan said TM was caused by an inflammation at a particular level or segment of the spinal cord.
“It can occur in children and adults of both genders, in all races and age groups, but the peak incidence occurs between the ages of 10 and 19 years, and 30 and 39 years,” he said.
“While some people may experience minor or no residual problems, others may continue to experience ongoing impairments that affect their ability to perform everyday tasks.”
Spinal Life Australia supports and empowers 2,000 Queenslanders who have spinal injuries, Post Polio Syndrome and TM. Spinal Life Australia is the Australasian Affiliate of the USA’s Transverse Myelitis Association (www.myelitis.org).