Introducing Anoushka Speville

Cerebellar Ataxia - MIchaelmantz ataxia blogs8

How it had started?

As far as I can remember, I have always had trouble with my health. During my childhood, I had to go to the hospital frequently.

I am Anoushka Speville, I am 28 years old and I come from Rodrigues Island, Mauritius(I know that it is not well known, but Rodrigues Island is the 10th district of Mauritius and it’s situated 560KM east of the main Island). In 2005, when I was 10 years old, I started to have migraines, and shortly after I lost my balanced gait and started to have tremors.

My diagnosis.

The next year, I was diagnosed with Acute Cerebellar Ataxia and spent some months in a hospital on the main island. I mentioned earlier that I had always had fragile health, and I often had fever and flu, but it wasn’t anything serious. I believed that I had a defective gene or a low immune system for a long time because my ataxia was caused by a severe infection.

One day, I woke up with a mosquito-borne viral disease called “chikungunya” which is caused by the virus (CHIKV), I had fever and joint pain and I was bedridden for one week, my ataxia symptoms started only months after (I won’t be able to say exactly how many months after this period is kinda blurry but it was between three and four months) I remember that it was during the annual educational school tour to Mauritius that my symptoms started. I lost balance and my knees trembled for moments.

What is Cerebellar Ataxia?

Ataxia is the term used to submit to a group of rare degenerative diseases related to a part of the brain called the cerebellum. The cerebellum is responsible for the coordination of voluntary movements such as speech, posture, and balance. Ataxia affects people of all ages, the symptoms can appear in childhood as in late adulthood. There are over 100 types of ataxia.

When did I take a life-changing outline?

My life was about to change forever, and I didn’t realize it at the time. When I returned from my trip to Mauritius, my relatives were shocked and they thought I was feigning or maybe “it was in my head”. At that moment, I began to isolate myself from others, I stopped playing with my cousins outside, at school I stayed in the classroom by myself, and during family gatherings, I sat inside with the adults while my cousins were playing outside. With hindsight, I comprehend their misconception. Imagine leaving your child in good health at the airport and then recovering almost physically disabled fifteen days later.

When did my symptoms get worse?

My symptoms worsened the next year, making it hard for me to sit without falling down on the chair, I needed help to walk and eat and I had a hard time making people understand me. I was in need of help for everything that made me feel worthless and guilty.

How is it going?

Actually, I will say that my biggest struggle is my mental health. I think that when you have a physical disability, it is a constant fight mentally and physically. Honestly, I didn’t receive the support I needed at the start. As a child, I had dealt with this alone, feeling scared and lonely. I would say that it was “too” late when they began to trust and support me. I had already created a barrier between myself and others. And even eighteen years later I still have trust issues and anxiety. Physically, I can do almost everything that I need help to do and much more.

HOW? I never gave up and I keep on trying every day. “If you don’t do it nobody will do it for you.” I repeated this in my head every day (mostly when I had to do my exercise). And, I was in a bubble and didn’t want to ask for aid. Which fueled my desire to do things on my own. If I fail today, never mind I will try again tomorrow, and so on. I’m proud to be able to walk with a cane today. I came from a very far and dark, and there is still a lot to be done.

We would like to thank Anoushka for sharing this inspirational story with us. Please share your thoughts and/or comments on this or any other article. And if you would like to get involved and share your experience with Cerebellar Ataxia, please get in contact with us and join our community today.  A place where we empower you to build a healthy lifestyle and raise overdue Ataxia Awareness.  Experience transformative storytelling and share your story to inspire positive change.


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2 Responses
  1. Rynn

    Best wishes to you! My daughter has Friedreich’s Ataxia. Though not the same as your ataxia, i presume there are similarities. Therefore, we have probably had some of the same type of experiences. I wanted to thank you for sharing, and I wish for you a joy-filled life. God Bless You!

  2. anoushka speville

    Thank you for the warm words Rynn. It was my pleasure and honor to share my story. Effectively, the type maybe different but the symptoms are mostly the same. All the best for what is coming..shiiiiveriiiing 😙

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