Name: Fiona Lamond (Fi)
Age: 33 (May 1985)
Where do you call home? Sydney, Australia
Education degree(s): BA Ancient History, BA Media and Cultural Studies
Who do you live with? I live with my parents and my younger (by two years) brother.
What's a typical day for you? A typical day for me starts with me finding my glasses and putting on shoes and socks because that gives my feet a bit of stability and traction for my standing transfer into my wheelchair. A trip to the loo. Then my routine changes depending on the day ahead if I'm going out to shop/see a movie/meet up with friends/explore/have speech or physical therapy/or to be out and just have a coffee (and a cake!). If I'm staying home I'll have brekkie and then exercise with weights, resistance bands, and stretches, read this month's book for book club, read/use social media, play games on the iPad and catch up on the telly.
How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed with FA when I was eleven after I was struck with Guillain Barre. I bounced back to my normal after that but the doctor said my normal wasn't normal. A blood test revealed that my parents were Carriers, I had FA, and my brother was completely in the clear.
Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. I started using a walking cane my first year of university. And quickly learned all the short cuts on campus. When I went back for my second degree I used a manual wheelchair fulltime and tried to organize my classes to start at the top of campus and move downhill throughout the day. In my last year, renovations made my campus route inaccessible so I bought an electric wheelchair to help me get around steep hills. As a bonus, this meant I could get out and about by myself and go further.
What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? Strengthening the core seems to be the key to using every part of your body from standing, lifting/reaching and even talking. It amazes me how muscles you don't even associate with actions give limbs strength. When I exercise my therapist often has to tell me what muscles I should be picturing using.
When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? I like to get out of the moment when the difficult stuff gets to me. And what helps me do that is very loud (sometimes quite emotive) music to sing along or move to; watching or reading stories (usually comedy, action or fantasy/sci-fi); and making plans for things to do.
What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? FA has had a somewhat positive effect on my perception and that of the people in my life, about the world and disability, and an empathy with other minority groups. My FA has also given me the motivation to try things, to do what I can do while I
can still do it. Something as small as a hair change, to traveling, to volunteering at the 2000 Olympic Games, to going on international student exchange.
What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? I'm not really much of a quote person. I prefer motivational songs, particularly ones with a good beat - it's easier to move if I'm thinking of a song. "Tubthumping" by Chumbawumba, so many songs by P!nk, too many to list here.
What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Exercise and try not to put off what you can do now. Your life will be different, not over.
What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? I don't know. It's funny because curing FA would be fantastic no doubt. However, I've lived with the diagnosis and symptoms for two-thirds of my life. I guess the first thing I'd do is work at changing my mindset.
"I have FA but FA doesn't have me." What does this statement mean to you? How do you live your life in the face of adversity? Doctor Who quote - "The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and... bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant."