For this week’s Ataxia Profile, we are going to be introduced to Maria Lefevre…and get to know her a little better through reading her story.
Marie first began to notice physical difficulties at the age of twenty-nine…but had nothing done until she was thirty-nine. At this point, Marie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis…which was changed when she was forty-five to Cerebellar Degeneration.
Marie looks back on her life before the diagnosis of Ataxia…and realizes that she didn’t take the time to appreciate what she had. She had the ability to do whatever she wanted…and everything from working, eating, and everyday simple tasks came mostly without effort, and like so many of us did before these things became an issue…never gave these things a second thought. Marie reflects on her life…and comes to the conclusion that she has been much more appreciative in the last thirty years than she was in the first thirty.
Marie has volunteered for many places that provide aid…and began the road of service at a Center for MS patients. She also spent some time working as a teacher’s assistant in a classroom for children with Autism. Marie decided to study for a career in childcare…but soon realized that this was not a good fit. Instead, she studied adult education, and at forty, she also did course work in community service studies. It took her almost six years to complete because she was doing it all on a part-time basis…but she believes that if a person wants something bad enough they will find a way.
Marie remains independent. She relies upon herself, and an example of this is her furniture…if it is too heavy to move by herself, she either replaces it with something lighter, puts it on wheels, or sits on the floor and pushes it with her legs (which I have affectively done before). I have also put furniture on a blanket or towel…sat down and pulled the furniture to me, as I have continued to scooch backward a few feet at a time. Anyway, this reinforces Marie’s belief…that if you desire to do something bad enough…that you will find a way.
One of the benefits of pushing furniture with her legs…is that it keeps the legs exercised and strong. Marie was told when she was first diagnosed that she should just go home and sit…that she would most likely be in a wheelchair by the age of forty or fifty at the latest. But at the age of thirty, Marie was not willing to accept that…she felt too young for that. She lives alone and her Ataxia has taught her to depend on herself. Marie has one daughter and four grandchildren.
Marie also likes to garden…and has served as a volunteer gardener for the last three years. Walking in her own yard has become difficult as of late…so she has either planted trees to hold on to or placed long sticks in the yard that she can grab…with the note that they need to be long enough that she won’t fall and stab herself:-) Good idea, Marie…safety first…hahaha. She does not let anything stop her from doing the things she loves and finds fulfillment in…and will often sit down to do her gardening. This gives Marie the motivation to keep moving and a feeling of worth.
I admire that Marie…because one of the saddest things to me is seeing people easily defeated by Ataxia or other physical challenges. With Ataxia, in particular, I have witnessed too many who use it as an excuse to give up and become more and more dependant…so thank you for your story of encouragement Marie…and giving me the privilege to write it.
That’s another Profile…and until next time friends…
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