Podcast Episode 120: A Health Professional’s Experience Living with Parkinson’s Disease

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It is a long road to become an anesthesiologist – four years of medical school and another four years of postgraduate training and residency. To subspecialize in cardiac anesthesiology requires at least one more year. And Dr. Jonathan Lessin, our guest today, did all of that before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his late 30’s, forcing him to adjust his career path.

Anesthesiology is a very “hands on” practice, requiring dexterity to insert and manipulate breathing tubes, intravascular catheters, and imaging, ventilatory, and other mechanical devices. It also requires stamina for long operations. Jonathan was able to continue working for some time after implantation of a deep brain stimulator (DBS). But, taking into account the safety of his patients, he eventually knew it was time to give up the profession he loved. In this episode, he relates his history, how he came to receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis from a friend, how he persevered as long as was practical, and what his DBS allows him to do now.

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About This Episode

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Released: January 11, 2022

Jonathan Lessin, MD

An adventurer at heart, Jonathan Lessin was the cardiac anesthesiology residency director at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, as well as an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C. He was the first recipient of the Lessin Award, given by the residents of the University for inspirational leadership in preoperative care. Jonathan was diagnosed with Parkinson's at age thirty-eight and received his Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS) at age forty-three. He became a cyclist and avid sportsman just to prove he could, despite his diagnosis. In 2012, several years after his diagnosis, he voluntarily stepped into retirement to pursue life fulfillment. Jonathan now finds happiness encouraging his fellow "Parkies" to attempt things they thought they could never do. He currently lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and two daughters.

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