My dad, Mauro Angeles, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2006. The first few years was business as usual; he would go to work, try to disguise and hide his symptoms and it worked. However, as the disease progressed, he was forced to eventually retire.
The hardest part is watching him figure out who he is after retiring because of PD. My dad was from a generation where all he knew was to work, he was not yet mentally ready when the physical symptoms began progressing.
Following his diagnosis, I would try and understand the reasons behind his Parkinson’s; I used to tell him and my mom that maybe this was a sign for my dad to slow down and relax for once. Yet, PD taught my family a bittersweet lesson — it helped us realized that though my dad is the one living with Parkinson’s, it is definitely a family's battle.
Each one of us was affected, feeling so helpless and not able to fix it like he was able to do for us as children. It is not one person, but the family that experiences the rollercoaster of emotions brought on by the disease. I had to automatically be on high-gear and in a pro-active mode for both my dad and mom.
Those days I feel helpless that I could not help or fix his battles; advocacy, understanding and knowledge is the least I can do. I would endlessly research and find ways to comfort, ease and even just boost his mood, making him more comfortable with PD and its symptoms. I am not the main caregiver, but I am my mom’s back-up.
My dad has PD but it is definitely a family thing... being strong these days is not an option it's a must. I am grateful for what the Foundation does; bringing awareness and taking away the stigma, but equally important, in giving US all a voice. It is a definite bittersweet adventure, but after the tears and cries of helplessness, my family continues to be grateful — my dad is still here, I am definitely making every minute of every day count.