I am a 49 year old, single mother who was an US Air Force Reservist, and also worked as a Nurse for 15 yrs.

In 1999, some strange symptoms started to occur, like bumping into walls, tremors, falls, numbness, tingling, in feet, legs and hands. I also experienced bowel and bladder problems, all within a month that I was off work.

I went to a top specialist at UCLA, U of M Ann Arbor, and a few others.  I was told I was a difficult case after many test and exams. I had two separate groups of symptoms.  One was cerebellar, which was confirmed by MRI that showed atrophy of cerebellum, but there was no answer for my Upper Motor Neuron signs.  And most testing was negative or normal.

After 11yrs of having a partial diagnosis of SCA (Spinocerebellar Ataxia), unidentified type. They finally found a rare abnormal gene mutation SET X (or Senataxin).  This gene had only been discovered in 2004 and they are still learning about it.  They found the UMN disease and my very rare diagnosis is ALS4 with a cerebellar ataxia overlap.

I am joining as many clinical trials I can to help find treatment and a cure.  I am an advocate locally as part of the Detroit Area Ataxia Support Group. And I dedicate as much time as possible to spreading awareness.

I am a member of the National Ataxia Foundation and now the ALS Foundation. I am still walking with a walker short distances and waiting for my customized wheelchair to be delivered. I take online classes at University of Phoenix for Computer Information Systems and Graphic Web Design.

Michelle DeCiantis

1 thought on “Spinocerebellar Ataxia (SCA) is Scary and Started with Strange Symptoms”

  1. I know the havoc this reeks–my symptoms started when I was 7. I’m praying for you. Have you researched neuroplasticity, and do you know of and applied medical practices employing it beyond balance clinics?

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