My Darling Disability - a Column by Kendall Harvey

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Kendall is a wife and mother of two navigating life with Friedreich’s ataxia in Austin, Texas. She worked in marketing before “retiring” and becoming a stay-at-home-mom. She is an optimistic warrior fighting for a better future free of FA. She uses her column to help others process both the visible and invisible struggles that come with rare disease and disability.

My Journey to a Friedreich’s Ataxia Diagnosis, Part 3

Third and final in a series. In a previous column, I discussed the tests I underwent to diagnose Friedreich’s ataxia. “Kendall, I was afraid that this might be the case: You have Friedreich’s ataxia.” My doctor looked as shellshocked as us. He studied Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) in his…

I’ve Adopted the Concept of ‘Besides FA’

I recently began participating in a 48-week, Phase 2 clinical trial for Friedreich’s ataxia. The way I understand it, the study’s investigational treatment is designed to make the cells in my body that are damaged by FA work more efficiently, or more normally. I’m hopeful that this can slow…

New to Friedreich’s Ataxia?

  The first time I ever heard of Friedreich’s ataxia was the day I was diagnosed with the disease in 2013 at the age of 25. To say I was in shock is an understatement. I was scared, overwhelmed, confused, angry, eager, and desperate. So, I am going to try…

I’m Not Yet Sure How to Fight My Fatigue

Friedreich’s ataxia causes a wide array of symptoms. Every FA patient experiences the disease differently. For me, fatigue is a major symptom. Before I experienced FA, I thought I understood what “fatigued” meant — being really tired. Boy, was I wrong. Oxford Dictionary’s definition of tired is:…

Seasons of Life with Friedreich’s Ataxia

Since my 2013 Friedreich’s ataxia diagnosis, the condition has consumed a part of every day. I was prepared for the physical changes that would come with FA, but the mental and emotional stress has surprised me. It is a factor in almost all of my…

The Emotional Workout of Physical Therapy

In Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) care, we don’t really have treatment options. There are clinical trials taking place to work on treatments and hopefully one day, a cure. But until then, we are left at the mercy of this progressive, degenerative disease. Wow. That is heavy. And disheartening. The…

My Big (Literal) Break

Editor’s note: This post includes images of a bone break that may be disturbing to readers. For some time now, I’ve needed to use a walker (or another mobility aid). My physical therapist, Kelli, has been encouraging me to use my rollator around the house. It is…

Fight or Flight in FA Patients

Almost everyone can point to moments in their lives dictated by the choice: fight or flight. By definition, the fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) patients have to choose to fight every single day.

What rideATAXIA Means to Me

Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) is a big, overwhelming disease. And with it being so rare, it can feel very isolating. My immediate family and I had never even heard of FA until my diagnosis in 2013. When we started telling family and friends about this disease, my aunt remembered seeing a…

Dealing with Progression

As my Friedreich’s ataxia symptoms progress, so do my feelings and emotions about this complex disease. When diagnosed, I accepted it pretty quickly. I obviously knew that something was wrong with me, so defining it helped validate what was happening to my body. Don’t get me wrong, in my younger…

Pregnancy and Friedreich’s Ataxia

When diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) at the age of 25, I was devastated. I thought I would have really poor quality of life and that all of the plans I had for my future would be impossible. One of the biggest emotional topics was parenthood. I thought that having…

An Introduction to My Darling Disability

My name is Kendall and I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) at the age of 25. I grew up in Katy, Texas, where my childhood was quite happy. I was always very active, participating in cheerleading, the swim team, volleyball, softball, track, and any other sport I could find to join.