Andrew Marshall 4Name: Andrew Marshall

Age: 37

Where do you call home? Johannesburg, South Africa.

What is your relationship status? I am not married.

What's a typical day for you? My days vary. Typically, I focus on a gym routine or marketing my memoir.

How long have you known you are living with FA? I was 16 when I was finally diagnosed after going to numerous professors and doctors.

Are there any others with FA in your family? No

Andrew CollageDescribe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair: I think I tried to fight my body and gravity for far too long. I felt like if I finally submitted to a wheelchair I would be a failure. I didn't want to be viewed as being a 'cripple', which I later came
to see as pretty ironic. Clawing your way between furniture, tensing your muscles madly to keep your body upright and dragging your shoulders against walls to keep going arguably makes you look more 'crippled' than a wheelchair! (I've gone into this far more eloquently in my book.)

What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? To stay fit, I go to the gym. Calf and stomach exercises seem beneficial; any; movement is exceptional. I try to concentrate on stretching my hamstrings, calves, feet and lower back and love the aqua massage machine.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests? It took me around a decade to write Dissecting Wobbles, so I guess that's been my preoccupation and hobby for a good while now. Since publishing, that's shifting a bit to marketing the book. I love the manipulation and molding words so I'm going to do a few online fiction writing courses. I'll be a household name in a few years, you'll see!

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? I try and surround myself with friends and great people and try to laugh at myself and life. I feel laughter truly is the best medicine.

What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? Documenting my experiences with my disobedient body has been the most important thing I've ever done. Hopefully, I can bring about better awareness for FA and disability in general. If able-bodied or disabled people read it, I hope they can find a few lessons and maybe some encouragement. The book was a team effort that ended up involving a lot of people. Without our South African flavor and diversity, I could never have done it – which makes me feel almost privileged.

What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? Hellen Keller wrote; 'I used to complain about my shoes till I met a man with no feet.' There is always someone else in a worse situation than yourself, if not physically then because of other circumstances. I have to remind myself of this every single day.

Andrew Collage 2What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Stretch stretch stretch!

What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? Go for that long walk on the beach (with the kids I'm going to have), transform my hieroglyphics into real calligraphy and become a leader in the field of talking refuse (whilst doing cartwheels).

"I have FA but FA doesn't have me." What does this statement mean to you? I run the gamut between, 'yeah I've got this, don't stress, it's cool.' and being a train wreck. It's a process. I hope I'm slowly learning to be more tolerant of this disease.

Tell us a little more about you...In high school, my peers gave me the nickname Wobbles. I hated the nickname because it classified me as different, but which I eventually came to terms with. Towards the end of Dissecting Wobbles, I write about meaning and purpose. How I feel these have been lacking throughout my life. Well, something new has been percolating in my brain for a few years, which may put a little more of them into my life. It's starting to take shape, so watch this space! If you want a copy of Dissecting Wobbles please check out my web site or get the physical book or epub off of Amazon.

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