Name: Angelina Ritschel
Where do you call home? Delaware
Education (degree(s): How will FA add to your future [career]?: I've graduated high school and am working on getting my bachelor's in philosophy and criminal justice. I do have a minor in French too, but I don't think they give a degree for that. I hope to attend graduate school and maybe get a PhD after that, but I don't know if I want to do more schoolwork. I think FA will get in the way of my future career, as it does now during school, but I'll figure that out when the future career comes closer.
Who do you live with? I live in a dorm with live-ins.
What's typical day for you? When I'm on campus, I wake up usually an hour before I leave for class. I eat, make tea, brush my teeth, use mouthwash, get dressed, and go to class. After class I eat lunch and watch Netflix; sometimes I do homework in-between and then go to my last class. After, it's the usual: eat, do homework, get a shower, then sleep. For when I'm home, I wake up (usually around lunchtime), eat, watch Netflix, maybe get in the pool, eat, shower, sleep.
How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed at 11, so I've been living with it for 8 years. I went to the hospital when I was 10 to find out if anything was wrong with me because my teacher noticed I was walking weird and clumsily. I was in and out of the hospital doing a bunch of tests for that year. It took them a year to diagnose me with FA but Delaware is a small state.
Are there others in your family with FA? My sister.
Describe your transition from walking to wheelchair/walker: I went from walking, to using a walker, to using a wheelchair on vacations, to using a scooter, to being a full time wheelchair user; manual and power wheelchairs. I did not like using a walker because my friends didn't use one and I thought I'd be judged; but as I went from a walker to a scooter I learned not to care because I needed it, also no one gave me judgy looks so it was just in my head... It wasn't a choice, but a need. And then I went from a scooter to a wheelchair. All transitions came within a very short distance within each other. Since I'm in a wheelchair full time, I have a harder time with transfers which is why I use poles, grab-bars, and multiple shower chairs, to figure out which works better for me. My parents also had a special bath installed to make transfers easy, so we (my sister and I) just have to slide in instead of go down into it.
What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? I go to the gym whenever I'm home. When I'm on campus, I have a therapist that comes twice a week. I also have dumbbells and bands on campus too. I also use the pool too. Also I have a permobil chair, so I like to lift the feet pedal to stretch my legs.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests? I love cooking and making art, drawing or painting basically all types of art mediums. I also love swimming.
When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? Listen to music, imagine how successful you'll be in the future, make TikToks, watch my favorite show or movie. Don’t take life too seriously.
What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? Skipping lines to get to the front (haha); very helpful when traveling. Another thing is that FA has taught me to take on challenges that others don't have. Kind of like finding a new way to do something that you thought could only be done a certain way.
What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Things will get harder and you will get mad and want to give up but don't give up because there are so many ways to do things. It's like math, there is no one way, you just got to figure out the way that works for you.
What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? Scuba diving and going to amusement parks again.
"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? For me, it's basically saying FA doesn't define me. So if possible, I'll try to avoid what I know will be hard for me to do. Sometimes I'll do it in a different way until it works for me. However, I will try to get my friends to help me. Sometimes(when I'm not being shy) I will ask a stranger to help. On campus, they usually will help or ask if they can help.
Tell us a little more about you... I love to travel. I hope to see everything and every place I can. Also, I'm a huge foodie so I basically plan my day to day off food(including places I want to travel). I'm an animal person so don't be surprised if you see me with several pets in the future. I have no clue what I want to do with my life, but when I graduate college I'm opening a dog café where there's food for both people and dogs. I've met a couple people of the FA community but want to meet other FA members too.