47, lives with Madelung disease and Strümpell-Lorrain disease.
“Hello, my name is Maria. I am 47 years old and I am a mom of 2 children. I have 2 rare and genetic diseases: Madelung disease, which causes deformation in the wrists, and Strümpell-Lorrain disease, which affects the muscles, causes spasticity, stiffness, loss of balance, lack of energy and pain.
These diseases progress over time and cause disabilities. I move around with a walker and a wheelchair for long journeys. I have a baclofen pump. I do physiotherapy 3x a week. I do self-catheterization because my bladder muscle is already affected by the disease and I have been on a morphine treatment for 5 months.
When you live with diseases like these, you do not feel understood. When you tell people, “I’m in so much pain, I want to scream. I feel completely drained of my energy”, the response you often get is: “Yes, I have been really tired too lately”. People do not understand how much pain we are in 24/7.
When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t immediately accept it. Then I thought to myself, “Ok, the disease is here, and it will be with me every day and night for the rest of my life. There is no treatment. What can I do to have a good quality of life?” So, I looked for solutions to that.
I am supported by my family, medical team, friends and ALAN. I am not alone.
My goal is to keep my autonomy and my status as mother and wife, for as long as possible. I try not to isolate myself, but it gets complicated because I live on the 2nd floor with no elevator. Despite that, I go downstairs to go outside almost every day.
Every morning is like a challenge: because I’m in bed all night, when I wake up I’m stiff and it’s very difficult to walk. But I say to myself: “No, you must not give up!”. The start is very slow and difficult. But then I move better.
I would even say that my disease is my strength: every little thing that I manage to do during the day is an achievement and I tell myself: “See, you can still do it.”
Despite the disease, I want to live, to be valuable. There are still things we can do and achieve. Let’s fight and not give up! Quality of life is more important than longevity.”