Mark Nicholson

Member for

2 years 2 months

I was what some would call your typical alpha male. You know the kind. I spent hours in the gym so that when I walked in the room I was noticed by women and men alike.

MarkTattoos? Oh yeah, I got them.

Loud Harley? Check

Loud Chevelle? Check.

Loved to fight? Check.

Years ago, I took a job as a bouncer. I was big, good with my hands and had absolutely no fear.

While working at the bar, I met members of one of the Big 4 motorcycle clubs. The next thing you know, I was what is referred to as a Patch Holder, and it didn't take long with that alpha male personality of mine to be made Sergeant at Arms or what some would call the Club Enforcer.

What the world saw when they looked at me was a big, tattooed, patch wearing motorcycle club member. Whether it was respect or fear, I didn't care. I liked it. I liked going out and knowing that I could defend myself, my wife, my club and my friends.

If you can't tell already, my whole being was wrapped in physical looks and physical ability.

Fast forward a few more years, I took a job as a security guard. Boring! But one day I met a man who worked there and his wife who worked at the county jail. The new warden said that the place was hit by scandal and he was there to clean it up. I thought I'd give it a chance.

My first day there, they took me to the general population day room filled with inmates. Right away, I garnered attention. One inmate even exclaimed, "Look out for the roid rage!"

This was going to be great. That calm I got when in a tense situation was back.

I looked over and sitting at a day room table was an old club brother of mine. There goes my career as a correctional officer, I figured. I was sure when the word got out, I'd be fired, so when I finished my shift, I went to see the warden. I told him about my past. He then asked me if I would give this job my best and support him. I told him that I would.

Life was great. Within nine months, I was made Chief Correctional Officer. I ran the shift. After that I was put on the CERT team. I had an adrenaline filled job and was making good money. What could go wrong?

It's the little things you notice. At first a twitch. My body never did that before.

Fast forward a little, a doctor looks at me and says, "You have Young Onset Parkinson's disease.”

Well, that would explain the shaking, the weakness and the terrible balance. People know the physical symptoms of Parkinson's. It's what they can't see that I find the hardest.

Parkinson's is physically a struggle with the shaking, the slowness and the endless list of things your body goes through every day, but it is amazing what a human being can get used to physically.

I have lost most of the muscle. The tattoos are still there. That confident swagger has now been replaced with shuffling steps. The will and ability to take on all comers is now replaced with fear  fear that I am no longer the protector, but the one who needs protection; knowing I am no longer the provider, but the one who needs to be provided for.

I don't know - maybe it's karma. Putting so much emphasis on the physical. Who knows? The one thing I do know: the Alpha Male is gone.

Who am I?

If you have questions about Parkinson's disease symptoms, call our free Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET.

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