Much to my surprise on April 21, 2004, at age 60, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD). I say 'much to my surprise' because in the spring of 2002, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, obviously, a misdiagnosis.
Prior to taking any PD medication, I had a tremor in my left leg and my left arm was not swinging naturally. My son, Trent, whose first question upon my diagnosis was “what can I do to help my Mom?” contacted the Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre and eventually I was referred to Dr. Stoessl and his great team.
Today at 72, I lead a regimented and very active lifestyle. I participate in a variety of activities; X-country skiing, snowshoeing, swimming, walking, golf, line dancing, dance steps, singing, writing, reading and board games. I recently organized a weekly Parkinson's exercise group. Our physiotherapist completed Dr. Becky Farley's “Parkinson Wellness Recovery” fitness course and instructs the group. At age 71, I also completed the same course and instruct the class when our physiotherapist is absent.
At age 72, I have been facing the challenges of Parkinson's disease for approximately 15 years. I try and remain positive. The future is unknown, and the present is what I do know. I am single and finding a person with Parkinson’s with similar interests and doing reasonably well has eluded me.
I do believe in neuroplasticity and the ability of the brain to repair itself. I’ve had bouts of Temporary, involuntary inability to take a step or initiate movement., Abnormal, involuntary body movements that can appear as jerking, fidgeting, twisting and turning movements; frequently caused by dopaminergic medications to treat Parkinson’s., and tremors, but these experiences are sporadic. I continue to have an excellent care team that supports me. I would like to branch out and have more friends who are living with Parkinson’s.
The two most significant members of my support team are my grandchildren, ages 9 and 7. Their love, support, knowledge, encouragement, caring, and sensitivity go far beyond what words can express. I am deeply grateful to have them in my journey.
Footnote: When I was officially diagnosed, I was asked if I was depressed. I was stunned by the question. I came home and wrote how I felt. The following is exactly how I recorded my thoughts: “It turned out to be a beautiful spring day. We sat by the lake. Nature seems at rest and so was I. There was so much beauty, peace and serenity surrounding me I wanted to be wrapped in its gentle cloak and surrender myself to everything that was so good in my life.”