Personal Stories

SAM HECHT vs. PD

SAM HECHT vs. PD

Samuel Hecht
Deerfield Beach, FL

I was 66 when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. However, looking back I had an unexplained stiff neck for an extended period, starting about 4 years prior to diagnosis.

I live 6 months in Israel and 6 months in Deerfield Beach, FL.

I have led what I consider a very healthy lifestyle----I have considerable knowledge in nutrition and have exercised extensively.

I am married to a most wonderful woman. We have been together 8 years. This was my first marriage as I had decided early in life not to marry because my father and his first cousin had MS and I was afraid that I was a carrier.

During a trip to Portugal in July, 2005 we met a nurse who we befriended and she at the end of the trip requested me to see a neurologist. She wouldn’t tell me why---but to humor her I made an appointment. Within 5 minutes the neurologist declared that I had PD. I(and my wife) was in total shock. We somehow staggered home and we both cried for a couple of hours. This was in Israel and I almost immediately entered the denial process. I was prescribed Sinemet----which I refused to take. A few weeks later, we went on our planned trip to the South Pacific region on our way back to the U.S.

Shortly after arriving in the U.S., I went to my primary doctor to request an appointment with a neurologist for a second opinion. He (the primary) gave me a very thorough examination (including a CT)---and declared(and wrote in my file) that I showed no signs of Parkinson’s!!!!! I wanted to kiss him!! I was on cloud nine. I thought I was given my life back.

My left side was getting stiff and I had no swing with my left arm when walking. A couple months later I decided to go to my primary doctor again and request a neurologist to check my arm. Upon seeing the neurologist, he proclaimed after 5 minutes that I had PD. This was about 6 months after my original diagnosis----and was even worse in that my primary wrote that I had no sign of PD!!! If it weren’t for my wonderful wife I probably would have gone into depression. I now had to face up to the fact that I had PD.

At this point I was very embarrassed and tried to avoid as much social contact as possible. I was very self conscious. This was very difficult for my wife. Shortly thereafter we went back for our Israeli stint. My condition was worsening---I was getting very slow and my left side was very stiff. I had almost no trembling however. I went to an Israeli neurologist who was very good and recommended that I take Azilect (an Israeli developed drug). It didn’t help and my condition deteriorated to the point where it was difficult for me to dress myself.

Our 6 months were up and we headed back to Florida. I continued to deteriorate. I am against medications but decided that it wasn’t fair to my wife and I decided to try Sinemet (with much trepidation). I titrated up over a month as the MD prescribed---and had no positive results. This scared me. The only thing that had been keeping me hopeful all along was the information that I was daily getting from the internet. Because of the knowledge I gained from the internet I, on my own volition, decided to up the dosage. Three days later I was able to straighten my back much better and I wasn’t so stiff. This was the start of a significant improvement.

Fast forward to now. I walk 40 minutes every morning with my wife and at least an additional 40 minutes each day varying with yoga, weights, and ping-pong. I’m much looser and much better in most every way. I have even been able to reduce my Sinemet intake from 3 times daily to twice---with no adverse effects. If I can continue like this I will be quite satisfied.

Recommendations that I could offer are:

  1. Learn as much as possible about PD and the advances being made. This gives hope.
  2. Exercise as much as possible.
  3. Practice good nutrition.
  4. Take medications on time.
  5. Take a teaspoon of turmeric powder daily (mix it with juice or soup).

In closing, I want to wish all those with PD (and caretakers) the strength to fight this horrible disease. I am confident that within 7-10 years there will be medications that will considerably help (if not cure) PD. Good luck to you all!!!


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