Translation for BabelFAmily: Claudia Guiraldes
Having been invited by my friend Gian Piero, I too will leave my testimonial here. My name is Filippo Fortuna, I’m 30 years old and I am a surgeon; in November I shall graduate as a specialist in Clinical Pathology at the University of Bologna. Oh, I almost forgot to mention a minor detail… when I was 19 years old I was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia, although the problems started at age 15, mainly due to the scoliosis.
Later came the story of the trekking to see specialists and experts on the subject, the frustration due to the slow but relentless worsening of the condition, the turmoil that such an “unexpected blow” inflicted on the immediate family, etc…etc… None of this differs from the situations experienced by all who have come across this neurodegenerative illness; therefore I won’t elaborate on it.
Coming back to what I was saying at the beginning, each day I live performing two roles: that of the doctor and that of the patient, circulating through the corridors wearing a laboratory coat, aided by a walking frame. Although I carry the genetic defect (which I would define as moderately expressed) and in spite of everything and everybody, through determination and perseverance I graduated I July 2004, obtaining 110 and honours, with my experimental thesis on optical neuropathy in Friedreich’s Ataxia. This has enabled me to follow a 5-year post-graduate course working as a doctor in a clinical laboratory and in an out-patients clinic for genetic advice. To be a doctor/patient (which is how I like to define myself), is not easy! There are times when I am convinced that if I could go back in time, I would still take the same decisions. For example, when I discuss matters with other doctors, not as a patient but as a colleague, I don’t get frustrated, feeling that it’s others who are taking decisions on my behalf, without me being aware of what lies behind all that. At other times however, I curse the day when I enrolled in medical school and started on this path, which is already hard enough, working all day with illnesses and in addition having to carry the weight of a disease like ours! Fortunately, in either case we cannot go back in time and review our decisions retrospectively… Also because I am afraid I would not be fulfilled in the way I am now. Surely the fact that I am a doctor as well as a patient has helped me to develop a capacity for understanding and empathy when faced with other peoples’ suffering, which I could never have learned from a book ever…
In conclusion, it is obvious that I believe in research and see that this is the only weapon we can wield against such a difficult illness, to be able to run again in the green fields of life…My motto is ‘one for all and all for one’! This is my battle, our daily battle up to this day…I will keep you informed about any future discoveries.