My Parkinson's Diagnosis Journey
On September 26, 2016, my life was relatively normal. I was a 45-year-old married guy who was a part of a large extended family. By day, I taught and tutored English. In my spare time, I went hiking. I traveled as much as I could, listened to music, followed baseball, photographed everything, and wrote supernatural action/adventure/archaeology books.
In the near future, I was preparing for the release of a new book and a hopeful spinal surgery to remove the tremors on my left hand, which were attributed to spondylosis. Everything was great until the next afternoon.
I ran into a wall of ice, snow, and rock. It crashed down as my wife and I listened to the neurologist give me 90% odds that what was going on was actually the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Processing the information
As we walked out of the office, I hugged her and said we’d make it through. It’s what we do. After that, we told my parents, and I went off to teach. At the time, I had no idea what Parkinson’s was past tremors, Michael J. Fox, Muhammad Ali, and it made my wife cry.
All I knew was that it was a problem and I had to work that night. That really was my diagnosis moment. I lived in blissful ignorance until I watched a Youtube video of Fox and Ali together.
The emotion of the moment hit me hard, and I realized I wasn’t going to be functional to teach that night.
I vaguely told my adult students that I had received bad news at the doctor and gave them an assignment to take home. In the end, their kindness and respect meant a lot to me. Now I educate on my Parkinson’s disease from day 1.
When I got home, my wife and I cuddled and watched Dodgeball. It’s not like we didn’t want to think about what was coming, but rather it was a case of going on with life.
Tracing my symptoms
I can trace my symptoms back to at least 2011, which is way before my diagnosis. As the neurologist kept naming the conditions, I won a case of Lyme disease. Eventually, my weird left foot antics became dystonia.
I’ve since gone from stage 1 to 2 and changed medicines after side effects. I’ve also had a couple hospital visits and learned Parkinson’s disease's evil ways.
However, I survived my Avalanche Day diagnosis. Despite having a progressively degenerative neurological condition, I still can race the sands of the hourglass to pursue hobbies and accomplish goals.
I also learned that the powerful positive words of many writers, heroes, teachers, and family had created a solid foundation. My ordeal wouldn’t be easy, but it would be my path to living life.
The new normal
Since the diagnosis, I have held nothing back in my quest to keep it 100. I use humor, pop culture, and my interests to express my journey. Sometimes, I’m weird, and other times, I’m intense. Through it all, I’m mostly positive and genuine, but I do bare my fears because they’re real, too.
For 17 months, I blogged my life. People were reading my work, and I was humbled, yet inspired to show my life with the new normal. In March 2018, the good folks at this website extended me the honor of sharing my life with you. How could I do anything other than accept?
As I blog, I will continue to talk about my my adventures with the Parkinson’s disease monkey diagnosis on my back. I will tell you the tales of people I’m inspired by. I will detail my experiences as I face sleep apnea, swallowing studies, and my other Parkinson’s issues with the straight face of my Parkinson’s mask.
Throughout Parkinson's Awareness Month, I'll be speaking out as much as possible. Then again, every month is Parkinson's Awareness Month for me. I thank you for giving me that opportunity to express what the writer Emile Zola describes as living life out loud.
Have you ever tried journaling?