Astrid’s Story

It’s critical for single parents with medical disabilities to “stay positive” for the sake of their children, said Calgarian, Astrid Frauscher, 44, cervical dystonia patient.

Although she was born in Sudbury Ont., Frauscher moved to Calgary at just eight years old and has lived there ever since. It wasn’t until 2011, however, when her health started to deteriorate.

She quickly became familiar with the many difficulties that her condition would bring. Frauscher’s neck, paralyzed on a right angle, left her no choice but to struggle with chronic pain everyday.  “I wasn’t actually diagnosed with cervical dystonia until 2014. I worked for almost three years in severe pain just trying to ignore how bad it actually was.  “I find myself going into dark places often,” explained Frauscher.

“But, for my children, I keep myself going, I have no choice.”

The three children, Ryan Russell, Anika Russell and Kurtis Frauscher, are the most important members of her support system and aid her in many ways on a day-to-day basis.  Without them, she fears that her greatest insecurities would become her.

Anika Russell, Frauscher’s only daughter, admires her mother’s perseverance and positivity more than she can truly express.  “She is an astounding woman for being able to cope with a chronic illness and still remain so positive for the future,” said Russell. “I want her to know that I understand how challenging this is for her and that she has my unwavering support and admiration.”

Russell explained that the fact that her mother continues to raise her five-year-old brother, Kurtis, while also going through this hardship, makes her “beyond proud.”

Clive Mountford, a previous co-worker and friend of Frauschers’, said that she has had nothing but a positive impact on his life, as well as his daughter’s.

“Astrid is an absolute inspiration. I am a single parent myself. Even though I do not have a rare medical condition, I am not half the parent that Astrid is.

“Her willingness to move forward with everything that is constantly being thrown her way is just amazing,” raved Mountford. “It’s incredible what some people can go through and put up with when their only real concern is their children’s well being.”

Mountford’s friendship with Frauscher has grown throughout the years, and he intends to see her recovery through until she is completely free of her condition.

One of Frauscher’s best friends, Heather Fjeld, said a most moving aspect of her friends’ life is that although her illness is not well known, Frauscher continues to “keep her head up” while also attempting to spread awareness for her condition.

“Cervical dystonia is idiopathic, which means that there is currently no known cause for the condition.

“All that Astrid can do for her condition at this point is, medication, Botox, and deep brain stimulation surgery (or DVS). While these methods may work, they are only temporary fixes to Astrid’s problems,” said Fjeld.

Fjeld explained that although chronic pain was a major side effect of Frauscher’s condition, the overall stress that her illness had caused her become so intense that she often fell physically ill.

Fjeld also said that despite watching her friend go through the unimaginable, she has learned nothing but patience, kindness and the meaning of true friendship from her. However, five-year-old son Kurtis Frauscher is perhaps his mother’s biggest fan. He thinks that his mother deserves the title of that of a superhero.  “She’s with me every day and she brings me everywhere,” said Kurtis Frauscher. “I love her 10 million times more than anyone, ever.”

Originally printed by: Kylee Williams, Group B