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Jennifer Van Dyke

This spring I am getting married. In preparation, I have registered with National Parkinson Foundation (NPF). Marriage is a celebration of love and family. As part of my wedding celebration I have decided to give to NPF in support of their medical research and advancements that have helped my father with his Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Fifteen years ago, right after I graduated from college, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It started as a pain in his shoulder that just wouldn’t go away. I was just beginning my career as a healthcare consultant and was lucky enough to work at academic medical centers that were pioneering developments to combat Parkinson’s. Upon my father’s diagnosis, I immediately made him an appointment with Rush Neurology. I “kidnapped” him from work and went with him to his first appointment. It was vital that he was on the front lines of medical improvements and technology. For the first time in our lives we switched roles – now it was me dragging him to a doctor’s appointment he really didn’t want to go to.

He was able to have a normal life for many years with the help of medication. However, the dosage and frequency of the medications continued to increase and approximately three years ago, the medications were no longer working.

He did not feel comfortable being out for long stretches of time as his “on” and “off” times became unpredictable. It was during this time that his doctors recommended deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery. He underwent the surgery and stopped trembling!

He is comfortable going out in public again, but on the down side, he is now very quiet. He now talks slowly and quietly. It is hard for him to be heard in a noisy restaurant or for him to get a word in edgewise with me and my mom. With my new, quiet Dad many people ask me, “Are you glad he had the surgery?” My answer is always an emphatic yes!

Without the surgery, my father would not be able to walk me down the aisle this April and be able to enjoy the day with our family. This is why it is important to me to register with the National Parkinson Foundation for my wedding. Through my wedding registry I will be able to support continued medical advancement and research that will continue to help my father and others living with PD. To make a contribution to Jen and John’s wedding registration benefitting NPF and the Parkinson’s community, visit their Moving Day page.

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