Chelsea Conley 2 Name: Chelsea Conley

Age: 36

Where do you call home? The border of Ohio, WV, & PA in a small town called Flushing, Ohio.

Education (degree(s): I graduated HS and went to a local community college for my Associate Degree in business management.

Who do you live with? I live with my boyfriend of 6 years (Zane), his dog (Emma) and my cat (Athena).

What's a typical day for you? A typical day? My days always change. Usually I wake up, shower, do dishes, and read or play video games. Some days I do laundry. Since having FA usually gets me tired pretty early in the afternoon I tend to wake up pretty early around 6:30 am and get my day started since I always have more energy and feel better in the morning and it gives me more time to get done what I need to.

How long have you known you are living with FA? This is a loaded question. When I was 16, I started getting hesitant of the stairs in my high school. My balance progressively worsened and I started going to PT and to doctors when i was around 19 (2005). Three hospitals and roughly seven doctors later, and I was finally diagnosed at OSU a few weeks before my 24th birthday (2010) - 12 years I have been living with the diagnosis of FA.

Chelsea Conley 3 Are there any others with FA in your family? No.

Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. I was walking, albeit sometimes clumsily, until I was 24 when I needed to start using a walker, or leaning against walls, or using a shopping cart when I was grocery shopping. When I was 28 I started to use a wheelchair because I was falling too much and my chair was much quicker. A few years ago I finally got a power chair, even though I had fought against it for years. It has really helped me to get around better and be able to do more things independently.

What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? Honestly, I’m a bit lazy haha. I have a hard time motivating myself. However, I have done aquatic therapy twice and out of everything I have ever done, I feel like it helps the most. Also sometimes I like to play Wii video games which helps at least get me moving and having fun at the same time.

Chelsea Conley 1 Do you have any hobbies or special interests? I LOVE going to rock concerts. I also love taking photos and reading books. Watching hockey (Pittsburgh Penguins) has my heart. I also love to play video games.

What is a good trick to make daily life easier? Learn patience. Having FA can make doing things frustrating but if you can go slow and take your time doing things, it can make them easier to accomplish and if you fail you just have to be willing to try and try again. Also learn to enjoy little victories.

When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? Laughter is the best medicine.

What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? It has taught me that there are people in life that are not worth fighting for and lets me appreciate the few that are in my life who are.

What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? Fall down seven times. Get up eight.

What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Don’t stop living life and experiencing new things. You might have to do things differently or find an easier way, but NEVER give up.

Chelsea Conley 4 What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? I have a few things. The top 2 are to go to Greece and to go on a tour of the Winchester house.

"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? FA does not control me. I might do things differently and slower, but I’ll get it done in time. I won’t give up.

Interviewed by
Interviewed by Jamie Plourde