OCTOBER 23, 2015 | I’m 65 years old today. If you’ve read the 192 entries on www.parkinsonswomen.com or watched a video I’m in about PD, you know that I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s after I noticed a slight tremor in my left pinky. At the time, I didn’t understand that the frozen shoulder, and internal symptoms that I experienced two years prior to diagnosis were probably early warning symptoms for Parkinson’s disease.
I’m tremor-predominant, left-side-only. I’m genetically prone, since my mother had it, as did her mother. After the shock of my first diagnosis in 2008 by Dr. Edwin Garcia at Kaiser Permanente, Redwood City, and a second opinion by Dr. Melanie Brandabur, the former clinical director at The Parkinson’s Institute, I lived in denial for several years.
For about four years, that was fine. Then my tremor became a bit more pronounced. You can read more about my account in To Kaiser with Love.
Basically, the meds didn’t work at all for me and made me sick. After years, of feeling shaky, rigid and nauseous with a dragging foot (dystonia), I “interviewed” for Deep Brain Stimulation and had the surgery on July 17, 2013. It was 100% successful as you can see for yourself in my video Before and After DBS. I don’t take medications other than Azilect taken as a preventative.
Today, 7 ½ years after diagnosis I have no shake, no symptoms, I work full-time and volunteer heavily to help the Parkinson’s community. I have twenty pounds to shed and I don’t exercise enough, but my fear is that you won’t like me because you’ll think I am gloating. I don’t purport that I am typical or even normal. Deep Brain Stimulation was an absolute miracle surgery that gave me back my life. In gratitude, I help others whose lives with Parkinson’s disease are far worse than mine.
My luck could always change. But here is my tip now that I’m turning 65 years old; a piece of advice that has helped me so I’ll pass it forward.
Resolve to make life good for yourself. Refuse to let negativity creep into your mind to mess with your success. Positive thinking is right up there with exercise as an effective medicine for Parkinson’s disease, and it is free.
I think of the great females of Parkinson’s disease–women in Parkinson’s Women Support and the PDF Women & PD Advocates across the country whose resilience and determination stirs the soul and awakens the spirit. For such women, life doesn’t end with slow or shaky arms or legs. Obstacles don’t deter them from achieving a life full of purpose and meaning.
A quote by Mahatma Ghandi posted in front of the treadmill at the Parkinson’s Wellness Recovery (PWR!) gym in Tuscon, Arizona says, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Believe in yourself. You are unique and you can do it.
About Parkinson’s Women Support: The mission of Parkinson’s Women Support is to offer moral support, encouragement and camaraderie for women who are Parkinson’s Disease patients. Check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonswomen