I am 64 years old and was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011. However, I’ve had symptoms since the mid 1990's. I was tested for multiple sclerosis (MS) several times and underwent numerous neurological screenings. Nothing showed, so my neurologist in Long Island diagnosed me with atypical migraines and fibromyalgia.
In 2007, my husband and I moved to Israel to be near our children and grandchildren. We found excellent doctors and developed a wonderful medical support team. In 2010, I was sent to a neurologist for restless leg syndrome and tremors. That doctor told me that he believed that I had another condition, but would not diagnose me without more tests. A year later, he told me that I have Parkinson's, but that I should not consider myself to be sick. He told me to live my life to the fullest.
I try to follow his advice, although my husband and I did make several changes to our lifestyle. We sold our home, which was in a hilly neighborhood, and moved to an apartment on floor level with no stairs to climb. I started to use a cane, then a walker. I also took on more physical activities. Six years later, we moved to a smaller apartment with a garden. Again, no stairs.
In terms of physical activities, in 2011 I began working with a physical trainer and still see him once a week. It becomes expensive, but it is well worth it. I have always loved to dance and even danced semi-professionally in college and for a brief period after. I still dance when I can and would like to try Parkinson’s-tailored dance classes over here. I also walk as much as I can, whenever I can. I now see a movement disorders specialist and with the various adjustments he’s made to my medication, I no longer need the rollator and frequently do not even need a cane.
While my motor symptoms have not really changed, the non-motor symptoms are progressing. I am not able to teach, which had been my first profession. Here in Israel, I reinvented myself as a licensed real estate broker, but now I am not able to work at all. As a result, I need to constantly monitor my condition and I must take my medications on time every single day. I eat small meals, watch what I eat and how much I eat. My day is more regimented now.
With all of this, I still keep active. I take a water zumba class once a week, I work with the physical trainer, I walk and I dance. Most importantly, I spend time with my grandchildren every week and I have a close relationship with my children.
My physical activities keep me going and I make sure that my husband remains my first priority after myself. I make sure he also has time for himself since he has become in a sense my caregiver. However, he is still my husband and my best friend. I will not let this disease get him or me down. I am still me, and I have a life to live to the fullest.