Meet Eric Fitzgerald

Name: Eric Fitzgerald

Age: 28

Where do you call home? Ballyhaunis, Mayo, Ireland

Who do you live with? Parents and brother

What’s a typical day for you? I’m a writer, at the moment I’m writing another book and a TV series. I always allocate myself “chill out time” with my dog.

How long have you known you are living with FA? I was 11, so, 17 years ago.

Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. I was a very active kid, sports, walking, I did everything. When I was 11, I was told I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 15. This crushed me in every way, it also triggered my stubborn resilience, I walked until I was finished school despite everybody’s pleas that I use a walker. I found it difficult but like I said, I was very stubborn and determined to keep going until I couldn’t. I was 18 when I transitioned to the wheelchair.

What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? I use a Moto-med bicycle and an EZ stand frame.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? Writing and gaming.

What is a good trick to make daily life easier? Understand what you can and can’t do. Don’t put yourself down if you can’t do a simplistic task.

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? As cliché as it sounds I hope for a better tomorrow. I also like to imagine my life without being sick.

What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? I better understand the hardships of life.

What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? Keep rowing the boat. Life can’t be a stormy ocean forever.

What is a piece of advice that someone with FA has given you that encourages and inspires you? Be yourself.

What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Don’t opt out. Show your strength. Prove to yourself that you cannot be brought down by an illness.

What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? Go to a nature park just walk around with my dog.

“I have FA but FA doesn’t have me.” What does this statement mean to you? Don’t let the illness define you.

How do you live your life in the face of adversity? I struggle with simple tasks, but I have learned I am more resilient than I could imagine.

Tell us a little more about you… For the longest time, I didn’t know who I was. I wasn’t living, just merely existing. It took years of exploring my interests and counseling to find a reason to keep living. Turns out, I always knew who I am, but I lost myself in the dark ocean of grief and despair. It’s not an easy life by any means, but it could always be worse. I’m just going to keep moving until I can’t.

Did your diagnosis impact your friendships and relationships? If so, in what way? Yes. Probably my own fault. I closed myself in out of shame and embarrassment that I was no longer like my friends.

What do you wish the general public understood about FA or disabilities? We’re still human.

How long have you had your hobby/special interest? How did it start? Why is it important to you? I’ve always been fascinated with writing. It allows me to be whoever I want and do whatever I can think of.

Interviewed by
Brona Kearny