My name is Linda Snider, MD, and I am 45 years old. I started experiencing symptoms in my late 30s — walking off balance, slurring my words, and tripping a lot. I was diagnosed with SCA type 1. I became a doctor because my father had Ataxia and I became interested in medicine at a young age. We visited many doctors to try and help my dad, and I loved the idea of being able to help others too. It drives me to be a better person.
Everything was easier before Ataxia. I could do whatever I wanted without having to plan ahead. Now, I have to focus on every move I make. I need to rest more often and everyday tasks take much more effort. However, I have learned how to ask for help. Surrounding myself with amazing people is what keeps me motivated and encouraged, strong and focused. I love to see new things and visit new places and I love to eat. My motto – I’ll try anything twice.
I’m inspired by other people fighting their battles no matter how big or small. I realize that no matter what my current situation is, it could always be worse. My friends and family show me the value and strength that comes from love and respect. My cat teaches me to nap and stretch often. Music inspires me to continue to dance. I may fall down on the dance floor but I can always get back up again. It’s not the falls that count – it’s just a matter of getting up one more time.
My advice to those who may be newly diagnosed with Ataxia is this:
Find a support group, meet others going through what you are experiencing and talk to people who have already been there. Be mindful of the people that surround you. Your inner circle and caretakers need support and guidance as much as you do. Allow yourself to be emotional – don’t to be afraid to be human and to feel everything from the good to the bad. Anger, anxiety, fear and depression are real feelings and should be addressed or you’ll never truly feel happiness and joy. Being positive and finding humor in every situation will go a long way to ease your journey. Be your best advocate – ask questions, seek answers everywhere, try new things, don’t let others dictate your care.
My plan is to enjoy every day to the fullest – travel as much as possible, meet as many new friends as I can, eat fabulous meals, laugh so hard I can hardly breathe and create as much joy in others as they give me. #AtaxiaAwareness