I am 27 years old, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) at 25, eight days before I had my son. My symptoms initially started at 15 years old, so after 10 years of wondering what was wrong it was a relief to finally have an answer. But my diagnosis also brought a feeling of uncertainty — not knowing what I was going to face or what this meant for my future.
I have always been someone who loves to be on the go and doesn’t want to slow down for anything. At 27 I was a stay at home mom. I love being a mom of two great kids, but at the same time I never worked and wanted to have this experience. So, despite my PD I went back to school and became a Certified Nurse’s Aide.
There were times that I thought to myself “Is anyone going to hire a certified nursing assistant (CNA) with PD?” or “Can I physically do this job?” My husband, being my greatest supporter, kept encouraging me. And six weeks later I earned my CNA certification and was hired at my first job: a CNA at a nursing home.
I loved my job and everything about it — helping, caring for the elderly, talking to them and getting to hear their stories. But after a year it physically became too much for me to handle. So, I went back to school and to become a Certified Medication Aide. And after nine weeks of training I moved up to the position of Medication Aide in the nursing home. I could still work and help my residents, this time in a less physically demanding way.
I have my good days where I feel like I can conquer the world, so to speak. I feel normal, like I can forget PD exists. I can do whatever I will myself to in a day: grocery shopping, errands, cleaning house, doing activities with my family, work my 12-hour shifts.
Then I have my off days where I don’t know what to expect. Some days Parkinson’s takes my ability away to drive, work (luckily, I have a very understanding boss), or it gets embarrassing and physically exhausting from uncontrollable movements.
I own a few of what I call my Parkinson's shirts. I wear them on the days my PD is acting up. In a way it helps me have more confidence in public when I can't control my movements from the medicine or when the medicine doesn't want to work, making me slower.
I just keep reminding myself everyone has a battle they struggle with in life and mine happens to be PD. There is nothing I can do about it but keep my head and keep fighting. This is my battle and with the help of God, my very supportive husband, my kids, and the care of my Neurologist I can do this!