Name: Chelsey Sommerfield
Where do you call home? Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Education (degree): Administrative Assistant
Who do you live with? I live with my parents and sister at the moment.
Had my own apartment which I loved but after rent and bills I was not saving for the future.
What's a typical day for you? Monday through Friday I usually start my day around 6:00 in the morning. I work full time 8:30-4:30 and then I usually go to the gym before or after work.
How long have you known you are living with FA? (When and how were you diagnosed?) Diagnosed at 17, almost 10 years ago. Through months of going to different specialists they ended up sending our DNA to Ottawa to get tested and that’s when the figured it out.
Are there any others with FA in your family? My little sister, Brittany Sommerfield, whose three and half years younger than me.
Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. Transferring from walker to wheelchair doesn’t happen overnight. At about age 21, I started using a walker. At first it was only sometimes, but then eventually it became all the time. But then I started falling and once I began falling in public. I started using a wheelchair when outside the home. At the age of 23, I had surgery on my stomach and that’s when I began using my wheelchair all the time. Now I have a power chair and a manual chair depending on how productive I need to be (If I’m at work or need to run errands I’ll take the power chair) where I am (Won’t use the power chair in someone’s apartment as I will most likely put holes in the walls haha) and how I’m travelling (If its someone’s personal car I’ll need the manual, city bus I’ll need the power and with handi transit its vice versa).
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 here in Winnipeg. I work out my arms and legs on a weight machine. My gym has a recumbent elliptical by Octane Fitness, it’s my fave! I can get my heart rate up high, it’s a full body workout but if my legs are misbehaving I can take them off of the foot plates and just use my arms. Then at home, I’ll transfer to the floor stretch and do some core and back strengthening stuff as well as stretching. I also got a hand cycle bike this past summer but unfortunately it is only seasonal as there is snow here 5-6 months of the year.
What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? It makes you know what your priorities are. Everything you do takes a bit more effort and a lot more time. So for me at least I have no interest on wasting time on things that aren’t important.
What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? Resilience is a skill all individuals need and they need it to be strong when having FA. FA throws curve balls and it is continuously changing so you need to be able to bounce back.
What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? Buy a car and drive it everywhere! Miss it immensely.