Man with leg tremor struggling to hold family home above head.

Remembering Dad’s Diagnosis

Dad received a diagnosis the year that I was graduating from College. It was 2013. We were in the process of losing our house. My parents were fighting non-stop. And existing in our home seemed impossible. Dad began noticing that his right foot was shaking of its own accord.

Now, Dad has always been a leg-shaker, and we didn’t think anything of it when he first pointed to this symptom. Maybe it’d stop on its own. Perhaps it was due to the stress that his body was doing strange things. We all doubted the diagnosis when he received it. There’s no way that this strong man could have Parkinson’s.

I didn't want to believe it

I’d seen other people with Parkinson’s. There was a man in our church who had died from the horrible disease. And part of what seemed so humiliating was how visible it was. He couldn’t receive communion without leaning on something to steady him.

Looking at him just gave you a heavy pit in your stomach. So, when Dad received a diagnosis, I think I didn’t want to believe it. There’s no way he was destined to the same fate as this church-going man.

Searching for answers

I cope with difficulties by burying my head in a book until I can’t digest any more information. So, when we began our search for answers when it came to Dad’s foot, I started devouring information.

I learned that Parkinson’s is commonly misdiagnosed. But that even the misdiagnosed illnesses can be quite catastrophic. I learned that those with Parkinson’s suffer from a degenerative disease, which means that it only gets worse. And I learned about the things that could go wrong if he really did have it.

It wasn’t long before he received a second diagnosis of the same kind. And what really pounded the nail into his coffin was the simple fact that Sinemet seemed to help.

Here was this power drug that alleviated tremors and helped those who suffered from Parkinson’s. And seeing that it worked seemed to be a pretty good indication that it was Parkinson’s that the doctors were treating.

Discovering new symptoms

It’s been 8 years since his diagnosis. He no longer works. And he recently told me that he thinks stress exacerbates his symptoms. So, if he begins to worry or get worked about something that’s happening in the world, it isn’t uncommon for his tremors to get worse.

Knowing this, I can help but wonder if it was a coincidence that the disease reared its head at the same time that we were battling for our home and our relationships. Had we lived in an idyllic little world where very little went wrong, would it have taken longer for Parkinson’s to emerge?

In retrospect, my Dad has reported that he’d been experiencing symptoms that relate to Parkinson’s for many years before he received a diagnosis. He lost his sense of smell. He’s always had a terrible time trying to sleep. And we continue to discover new symptoms that could relate to the diagnosis.

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