31 Days of SMA: Mike Huddleston

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by Kevin Schaefer |

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Day 5 of 31 Days of SMA Topic: Transitioning to a Wheelchair This is Mike Huddleston’s story: Hello! My name is Mike. I’m 57 years old and have SMA Type 3. I was diagnosed when I was 16, but knew I was having difficulties for a few years before that. My doctors told me I likely wouldn’t walk past the age of 40. I immediately adopted a commitment to exercise. At the time, there was little evidence about the benefits of exercise, but I knew I felt better when I did. I still exercise daily. As my condition progressed, I fought to maintain the ability to walk, doing so without assistance until I was in my 40s. At that time, I started using a cane to help my balance. I felt that I was somehow “beating SMA” if I continued walking. That said, I also started eliminating opportunities to attend events and social gatherings. I missed so many events in an effort to reduce risks or even the embarrassment of falling in front of people. I rationalized these decisions in so many ways, but ultimately, I was missing out on life. This stubbornness came at a cost, as walking became so laborious that I could only take about 10 steps before stopping to rest. My falls became more severe as I was losing the ability to brace for impact. This culminated with me falling in 2015, resulting in a shattered left tibia and tibia plateau. I made the difficult decision to start using a power wheelchair in order to reduce the chance of even more traumatic injury. My first time in the wheelchair, I sought an isolated location away from everyone. I sobbed for about 30 minutes, feeling I had somehow lost the battle against SMA. I could not have been more wrong! The wheelchair provided me a sense of safety and independence that I couldn’t have imagined. No longer was I avoiding attending events, often seeking opportunities for adventures that I had avoided for decades. If you are facing this difficult decision, please consider your safety, independence, and ultimate enjoyment that will be possible using a wheelchair. Life is too short to miss out on opportunities to spend time with those you love and who bring you joy. #SMAAwarenessMonth #SMAAwareness #31daysofsma2020

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