Updated: Oct 29, 2020
“If you’ve met 1 person with Parkinson’s (PwP), then you’ve met One person with Parkinson’s.” Anonymous
When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014, it was a shock like none I would have ever expected. How could what I thought was a shoulder injury be an incurable, neurodegenerative, progressive disease? I had just turned 53 and have always been physically active. My rational mind said, “Well, at least it’s not a death sentence. I will eventually die with Parkinson’s but not from it.” But my emotional mind jumped on a roller coaster ride of emotions. (Now, I must tell you that I love roller coasters, but this is one I’d rather have skipped.) I lived in denial for a year, waiting for my shoulder to heal (it didn’t), until I finally saw a movement disorder specialist for a second opinion. When he gave the same answer as the first guy, I looked him square in the eye and said, “Wrong answer.” From that day forward, I’ve ridden my roller coaster through the other stages of grief – anger, bargaining (& prayerful begging), moments of feeling depressed, and then finally acceptance. This is not a “giving in” acceptance, but an “ok, so I have Parkinson’s…but it doesn’t have me” acceptance that my life has a new normal. I’ve learned to see the humor in my symptoms. (As she grows older, our granddaughter will laugh with me at Lolli’s “dancing hands”.) It means I choose joy over sadness. I work hard to keep doing routine things, even if it takes me longer. It’s a bedrock of faith and a positive attitude that helps me climb out of the dips on my roller coaster ride. When they come, I choose not to stay in the lows but purposefully do things to bring me out of the dips. And I always savor the thrill of the peaks. As of this writing, I am not on medication, but use exercise as my medicine. I have learned that my best weapons for fighting this disease are a positive attitude, support from my husband & family, exercise/exercise/exercise**, educating myself on symptoms, treatments, clinical trials, research, etc., and learning from others who have Parkinson’s, because no two PD patients are the same.
Now you’ve met one PwP.
If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s or some other life-changing disease, please know that you are not alone. There are lots of resources available to help you navigate through the innumerable questions that you have now and will have later. You have plans to make, things that need attention now which you thought you could “take care of later”. I would be honored to be on your support team and help as you begin the process of determining how your life will change. Yes, you read that right…you do have choices in this experience that will have a great impact on your life moving forward. You don’t have to live your life according to how others think you should. You have more control than you may think or feel you have at this moment, and you can choose to live your life well. Let’s figure out how to make it the best life possible!
**Boxing is a great form of exercise for PwP, thus the photo of a boxing ring. And no, the blonde is not me! :-)