January 30, 1981, I was born at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. I was the perfect red hair, brown eyes baby girl so they thought. I did have a Heart Murmur but that’s nothing MAJOR. In 1992, I was running around, playing outside, getting dirty and staying in trouble as a normal 11 year old little girl. In 1992, I kept having tonsillitis a lot. So, I went to Barrow County Emergency Room where they took a chest x-ray and saw that I had an “S” shaped spine so they sent me to an orthopedic doctor. The doctor diagnosed me with scoliosis which is a curvature of the spine. He then saw that my feet had a high arch. So I was then referred to a Neurologist in Atlanta. In March of 1992, the Neurologist asked me to walk down the hall. My reflexes were tested which I did not respond to. Once the evaluation was completed, the doctor dismissed me so that she could talk to my mom about my condition. At that time, the doctor informed my mother that I had Freidriech’s Ataxia, a progressive neuromuscular disease. It causes your muscles to waste away. The doctor further stated that there’s nothing we can do and there is no cure. She’ll be confined to a wheelchair by the time she’s 30, and if that little boy out there is her blood brother there is a 50 percent chance he’ll have it too. The ride home was so quite… We got home I said “Mama are they going to cut my legs off.” she said “NO, Baby”. When we told my family they were shocked and Grandpa said, “No, she’s just lazy!”
In the next 2 years, I had found out that my scoliosis had got so bad; my spine was twisting and pushing on my heart and lungs. March 8, 1994, I had a Spinal Fusion at Eggelston where they put steel rods on each side of my spine. The surgery was suppose to take 8 hours but instead it took 12 house and 8 hours in recovery. The very next day they had me get out of bed which was very painful. Ten days later, I was able to return home to my Grandparent’s house. At that time, my grandpa had advance stages of lung cancer. My last memory of Grandpa was when I was walking up the stairs to the front porch of his house after surgery with my walker. He was sitting in the rocking chair with his oxygen tank. He says to me, “Let’s go square dancing.” So more or less we kept each other company, he became my best friend. On April 15, 1995, about 5am I got the devastating news that my Grandpa had passed away. I wanted to die, too. I gave up on life which put me in this chair sooner, I didn’t care anymore.
In October of 1999, I dropped at of school in 10th grade then moved to Dawsonville, which was the worst mistake of my life. I went to a rehabilitation facility in Warm Springs, GA, and stayed there for nearly a month. The facility was not for me. In 2001, I went back to High School and actually GRADUATED with a Certificate of Attendence.
In 2006, I was talking to my brother, Tommy. He said that he had met a lady named Lynn Robinette, who has 2 children with FA. I was shocked because I had no idea other young people had it this horrible disease like I did. After talking with Lynn for a couple weeks, she helped me get the ball rolling in applying for the ICWP program.
Rest in Peace, Mindy. You will now be dancing with Katie Loftin, one of your dearest friends with Freidriech's Ataxia. Heaven has receive a sweet young lady which we have been honored to know.