Name: Frank Van Linden
Where do you call home? Antwerp, Belgium
Education (degree(s): I have a degree in marketing, but it was too hard to find a job due to my disease. That's why I studied multimedia. After my studies, I only worked in Winter, because I wanted to enjoy life and not being at my desk when the weather was good outside.
Who do you live with? I live with my girlfriend, every two weeks with her children and my dog.
What's a typical day for you? I get up using my HandyMove, go to the toilet (AquaClean), then I have breakfast and afterwards I ride my MotoMed (hometrainer). In the afternoon I do an activity: handbiking, fishing, visiting friends or someone comes to see me. Two times a week I go to the physiotherapist. Once a week I walk with a locomat (see picture). A long time ago, before corona, I had a busy social life.
How long have you known you are living with FA? I was diagnosed when I was ten, but the symptoms started at eight.
Are there any others with FA in your family? I have one brother, but doesn't have FA. I am the only one in the family, lucky me :)
Describe your transition from walking to walker/wheelchair. It was hard to take a wheelchair, but now I realize that I waited too long. I never used a walker, because it couldn't help me. I never sported before, but since my wheelchair I became a good handbiker.
What do you like to do to stay active and what type of exercises work for you to stay strong? I really love handbiking and have participated in competitions with it. During the years, the progression in the sport was not as big as the competitors. I wanted to stay in shape, that's why I did a challenge. In 2012, I drove with my handbike from home to Santiago de Compostela. I did one every year until 2020. I love to go on holiday with U/TURN. They provide adventurous trips with other disabled people where everybody has to help each other (e.a.: a blind man pushed my wheelchair and I told him where to go).
Do you have any hobbies or special interests? I love to eat and drink. I love mowing the lawn. I play games on the PlayStation with VR-glasses.
What is a good trick to make daily life easier? I make my diner in an air fryer (I don't burn myself with it). I can limit the temperature of my kettle.
When FA gets you down, what do you think/do to feel better? Having a drink with my friends around a fire.
What is one way living with FA has POSITIVELY affected your life? I became more sportive and it made me appreciate the small things in life.
What is a favorite motivational quote of yours? If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.
What is piece of advice that someone with FA has given you that encourages and inspires you? Not especially one person, but I love talking to everyone with FA, because we can help each other. Before building my house, I went visiting people in Europe with FA to see how they lived.
What is the best advice YOU could give to a person who has been newly diagnosed with FA? It's important to exercise your legs as well (not like me, who only trained his arms while handbiking). Don't hesitate to get a wheelchair when you need one.
What is the first thing you want to do when a cure/treatment to FA is found? Write about it on my blog, so everyone knows about it.
"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? I don't really think about it that much. I try living a fulfilling life.
Tell us a little more about you... In 2015 I joined the Ride Ataxia in Chicago and stayed with the Hooks in FA Woodstock. Next year, I hope to go to the Netherlands for my second RideATAXIA