What My Recumbent Trike Means To Me

As a Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) patient, my options for exercise are limited. I can’t go to kickboxing or step classes with my friends, and I can’t go for a run or a hike. While many popular types of exercise, such as dancing, high-intensity interval training, and the bar workout, are…

Do People Want to Hang Out With Progressive Disease Patients?

I’m no stranger to this question, but I wasn’t the one who posed it recently. Ever since I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) in childhood, I’ve dealt with its progressively disabling symptoms, including the transition from awkwardness to quitting sports to using a wheelchair — all during puberty.

A Letter to My Newly Diagnosed Self

Dear 2013 Kendall, Your world was just rocked and turned upside down. I know you feel like your future is an impossibility now that Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) has clouded your blue skies. I am here to tell you that yes, that future is gone. But it doesn’t mean you have…

This 4th of July, I’m Redefining My Independence From FA

As the Fourth of July approaches, I’m thinking about the word “independence” a lot. At 32, my independence looks different than I’d once imagined. As a Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) patient, my body is progressively losing so many abilities. Most noticeable and problematic is my degenerating coordination and balance.

Finding the Rose Among the Thorns of Rare Disease

Today at work I participated in a meeting, which was really just a gathering of co-workers for the purpose of connecting and visiting with one another for a couple hours. We all worked through a version of an icebreaker activity commonly referred to as “Rose, Thorn, and Bud.” In…

Reminding Myself to Appreciate My Mobility Aid

As a Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) patient well along in my symptom progression, I have a strained and emotional relationship with my mobility. Over the last three or so years, that same internal struggle has extended to my mobility aid. I am lucky that I lived a wonderfully carefree and…

Keeping Hope Alive With New Treatment Research

Research into my rare disorder, Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), seems to me to be on the rise. Though no specific treatments for FA exist, a wide range of ongoing studies is exploring different ways of treating this debilitating disease. It seems that scientists increasingly are taking an interest in FA.