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 A mood disorder whose symptoms can include a persistent sad or empty mood, feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, irritability and loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities.. 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:
- Learn as much as possible about PD and the advances being made. This gives hope.
- Exercise as much as possible.
- Practice good nutrition.
- Take medications on time.
- 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!!!