In 2004 I woke up and my left hand was shaking I was in shock and nervous and didn’t want to tell anyone.
I have done great things in the fitness world for many people, including pro athletes, and love helping people. Getting up to do that every day was my life, but now, my mind was racing as I drive to the doctor’s office.
In my mind I was telling myself, ‘I never drank, I never did drugs, I never smoked a cigarette. I’m in the greatest shape of my life. Everything in my life has been based around health and fitness so I can’t be anything wrong or serious. There’s got to be a simple answer why my hands are moving and I can’t control them!’
When I went to see my primary doctor she said, “listen you might have Parkinson’s. I’m not 100% sure, but I want you to go see a doctor who is my colleague.” She sent me to another office. The same day I did about four different tests and I was told I had Parkinson’s. I remember dropping to my knees in the doctor’s office. It just broke me.
How could this happen to me at 38 years old? After getting this news it was the longest drive home of my life. I became very depressed and I didn’t want people at work to see me like this, so I hid for about a year. But my hands started trembling more.
I started shaking more and people started to notice. They didn’t ask me if I was OK. They accused me of being on drugs. As a person (and as someone recently diagnosed), hearing those words broke me to my core.
I decided to put in my notice to leave work and start concentrating on my health. I’ve been a practitioner in the Jiu Jitsu world for a long time and I read a lot about eye and hand coordination in Parkinson’s. Jiu Jitsu is a lot of eye hand coordination and balance coordination skills and I think it’s one of things that kept me going for a long time and stopped me from getting worse. I turned 55 in March.
Sixteen years with Parkinson’s, and I’m still doing Jiu Jitsu. I think this disease is the greatest gift that God ever gave me, to help other people.
So, I’ll leave you with this: you can either lay in bed and be depressed or you can get up and fight every day because life is short. You have to look at life and laugh, smile and love each day like it’s your last ― so get up and fight. Find the champion in you.
Learn more about the benefits of exercise and managing Parkinson’s symptoms at Parkinson.org/Exercise.