I Was Devastated


“It doesn’t matter how old a son is. Even when he is big and strong, he is always a small boy for his mother.”


Imagine being a parent and getting this news from your son. 

I can’t remember the exact words that he said, but what I do remember is the word “Ataxia.” My own mind raced, and I could only imagine how devastated he must have felt. You see, my son is the person who came up with this exciting idea for this blog.

Ever since Mike was a small child learning to walk, run, skip, or trying to ride a bike, he was uncoordinated. He grew very fast and was taller than most kids his age, so we assumed his incoordination was due to his body growing too fast and his brain not keeping up. Never did we think there was anything wrong physically or mentally. Because he was so tall, we imagined he would be a great basketball player. We sent him to basketball camp where he was humiliated because he couldn’t keep up with the other kids.

He didn’t do well at the actual games and ended up on the bench for much of the time. He must have felt horrible wanting to do well but unable to do so. T-ball was another adventure for Mike at a young age.  He had a very hard time trying to hit the ball, and if he did, running the bases was a struggle. He eventually gave up sports and instead had fun with his friends, riding his bike, sledding, and just trying to keep up with the other kids.

After college,

Mike got a job and seemed to be doing well. And in his mid-twenties, he started having a lot of back pain. Eventually, he went to a back specialist who was concerned with the results of some of Mike’s coordination tests. That doctor recommended he make an appointment to see a neurologist. Luckily, he was referred to a great doctor and she just happened to be married to one of the top Ataxia doctors.

I don’t really remember all the details he told me, but I was so happy to hear that. At that point, she told him he had what was called Ataxia and he needed to see the other specialist. They did not know the exact form and apparently, he is still trying to get a confirmation as to what form.

As you can imagine, when Mike first found out he had Ataxia, I was devastated.

I had never heard of that before. He was only 28 years old! I went online, and what I read about Ataxia devastated me. It took me weeks to process this information and finally come to the realization that I needed to be grateful because it could be so much worse.

I stopped looking up information on Ataxia because it only caused me to imagine worst-case scenarios for Mike’s life. I know he got tired of me continually asking him how he was feeling; and I know that I, myself, got tired of my friends and family asking me how Mike was doing, every time I talked to them.

It is now 22 years later.

I couldn’t be prouder of all that Mike has accomplished despite the symptoms of Ataxia and because of it. At first, I devastated and worried about how Mike was feeling mentally and physically. He finally convinced me that he didn’t dwell on it and therefore he didn’t worry about it. If he isn’t worried, then neither am I!

Mike proves that no matter what obstacle is blocking him in his life, he can always overcome it with a positive mental attitude, a strong drive, and strong support around him. He has such a positive attitude and strong belief that his life is and will continue to be, healthy, happy, and successful.

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