Hi, my name is Donna Gorzela. I grew up as Donna Bibeau in the city of Lawrence, Mass. I graduated from St. Mary High School in 1981 and then attended the University of Lowell where I received a BS(1985) and MS(1986) in Math. I then went to work for the MITRE Corp. and Dynamics Research. In the spring of 2000, I went out on disability.
In 1998, at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with Ataxia. I then went 13 years being of “unknown” type but now I know I have ARCA – 1.
I am very involved with my church and volunteer a lot of time there. I also spend time working on the Ataxia Group. Additionally, I volunteer at the farm in Ipswich where my service dog, Denim, is from. I am also a member of the Andover Commission on Disability. In my free time, I like to read, cook, take piano lessons and attend a pottery class. I love hand-building with clay as it is so forgiving when your can’t pull off “smooth”. I like going for walks around the neighborhood, hiking and riding my recumbent trike. I’ve also been known to participate in some more “adventurous” activities such as sky diving and zip-lining. I’ve also tinkered in watercolor and origami.
I want this to be a place where we can write about our experiences with Ataxia. I want people to know they are not alone. So I try to give my life with Ataxia a positive spin and hopefully those that read it will come away with a feeling of peace, acceptance and hope. Sometimes I feel that this Ataxia can be so depressing but by writing about my feelings, in public, I force myself to look at the positives. I know I don’t enjoy reading about depressing thoughts and listening to people whine (which is so easy to fall into with this condition) so I wanted to write about something different.
My hope for this blog is that it brings further awareness about what Ataxia is and provides support for those that are dealing with Ataxia.