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Alan Jackowitz

I will be celebrating the 11-year anniversary of my Parkinson’s disease (PD) diagnosis — the day before my 50th birthday. While it has stripped me of my brisk walking pace, my dexterity and my ability to hit a 12-footer (assuming I used to be able to); Parkinson’s has enhanced my stamina and given me a new sense of purpose.

I now see the world in a new way. Each of us has issues! Everyone! My new PD glasses allows me to see it in people quicker than before and appreciate their motivations in a much more sympathetic way. As we know the stories of the famous, we don't know the stories of the guy next door. But not knowing them doesn't make them any less heroic.

Want to see a hero? Go to Walmart at 11:30 p.m. Oftentimes I’ll go at night and see young children and with parent or grandparent who just got off their job and have no other time to get their groceries done. Nameless heroes.

People have called me heroic, and I've laughed or have been embarrassed. My life has facets that are far from heroic, but I've lived my life with PD in addition to humor, energy, music, attitude and pills. If heroic is too strong a word, exemplary might suffice.

If I can be an example to anyone else about how to live a life with PD I would be honored. Perhaps my 8/29/2014 Facebook post best sums me up:

To the club members of Parkinson's Disease Awareness Group: I certainly appreciate the concerns that anyone would have be it medical, emotional, strategic or otherwise. To ask you to "lighten" it up a little, would be a doing a disservice to the readers who are educated, appeased, or just informed. Allow me to be the (de facto) voice of humor and calm in this sea of news clips, war stories and unease. Hopefully it'll be as helpful to you, as it is cathartic for me. To the person who asked, "How do people actually die from Parkinson's", not to belittle your question, or your desire for the answer we all want to know. Let's rephrase the question, How do people actually live with Parkinson’s? They continue to do the things that they always liked, they join support groups, they exercise, they (try to) make friends with other PDers around the world. They don't ask why me. They laugh when something is funny, they drool; and continue to live.

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