My name is Kristen Arcuri and I’m a 28-year-old female with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
I was living in Orlando, FL, and had the opportunity to move to South Florida for a new job. After living in South Florida for two years, I was having the time of my life ― working full-time, meeting new friends, dating. South Florida was the place for me.
I've always been super active in sports, the gym and other activities. I started noticing a difference in my hand movements. My right hand was not moving as fast as my left. As my workload got larger, I became more stressed and noticed my slowed hand movement evolved into a slight tremor.
I thought it was strange, but never paid attention to it until I met the love of my life, my handsome boyfriend, David. As days passed, I would come home from the gym or work, and the tremors would be just noticeable enough that he started asking me about it. I explained that it was nothing and only happens sometimes. We started paying a little more attention to it.
A few months later the tremors worsened. It was noticeably visible after every workout, being stressed, not eating or sleeping enough and more. David told me he was getting worried and thought I should get it checked out. I told him there’s no need because my dad has tremors and it’s probably nothing.
Fast forward six months ― and more than a year after noticing the tremors ― when David said if I didn’t see my doctor, he was going to call my mom. This may seem crazy, but my mother is one of those people who suggests getting everything looked at by a doctor regardless of what it is. Sure enough, my mom made me go to an appointment. From there, my whole life changed.
I saw my regular family doctor and she explained due to the fact my tremors are in one hand I should see a neurologist to make sure everything was okay. I freaked out but did as I was told. During this period, I was diagnosed with vertigo and started gaining weight rapidly. Weirdly enough, I exercised five days a week and ate healthy, so I was baffled as to what was happening to my body.
I finally saw Henry Moore, MD, at UM Health in Boca Raton. After many movement tests, Dr. Moore concluded that I had definite signs of Young Onset Parkinson’s. I thought my entire life was over. I immediately started crying. My mom said, “Well, what now?” Dr. Moore explained that the next best thing is to get a DAT scan and genetic test to figure out if this is a hereditary.
Three more months went by and I completed the DAT scan test and genetic test. Sure enough, my life was turned upside down when Dr. Moore called me and explained the results of the DAT scan. He informed me I'm missing dopamine in the left side of my brain, which is what’s causing my right hand to have tremors. This blew my mind. I thought, “how can a 27-year-old be diagnosed with PARKINSON’S?” I left the office with my head held high and decided to see more doctors. So, we scheduled more appointments.
After everything was said and done, I ended 2017 with Parkinson's disease, vertigo, thyroid removal surgery and hearing loss. Moral of my story is don’t ever give up or let this disease get you down in any way. I was recently promoted to Marketing Director, started my own social media company, continue to sell real estate and do Crossfit five days a week.
You can do anything you put your mind to.