Plane gate open featuring luggage leading to open bathroom door.

From Urinary Incontinence to Parkinson's: My Father's Diagnosis Story

In January 2018, my father received his Green Card in the mail. I knew what it was the minute I grabbed the envelope from the mailbox. When I handed him his Green Card, he was so overjoyed that he kissed my mom! On the LIPS! If you know anything, in an Indian household, parents DO NOT KISS ON THE LIPS. In that minute, my dad decided, “We are going to India this summer. Pack your bags.”

Our family trip to India

My father had not been home in 30 years (give or take). The whole not-having-legal-status thing kind of got in the way of that, but I don’t think he was entirely eager to go home - something he didn’t realize until he came back. This is my first time out of the country also. Finally, I could see all the places and people and homes my parents have been attempting to describe to us our whole lives. Even just the smell of the air, the way of living, they couldn’t quite capture what it all was. So we go. Five of us, fifteen bags (we had a lot of gifts we had to take) and nearly 20 hours later, we are in Hyderabad, India.

Now, I'm sure you’re wondering how does this heartfelt story of a trip to India have anything to do with Parkinson’s disease? Sit tight my friends, because it is a bumpy ride.

Diagnosed with Parkinson's in India

A few days into our two-week trip, my brother eats something from some cart and cannot stop throwing up - but from the other end. My other brother catches it and before you know it, they are both in the hospital.

At the hospital, my father is obviously there and the doctor looks at my father in one glance and says “You know you have Parkinson’s, right?” Now at this point, my father’s doctors in America were speculating. My mother didn’t believe the doctors in America and she had no reason to believe this doctor in India. But, I heard him say it and so did our family members.

It felt like we almost knew that he had Parkinson’s but for some reason, it wasn’t until this doctor so swiftly and decisively said it that it seemed true and real. Like we had come face to face with our own Chewbacca. Sighted, front and center.

Vacation turned disaster...

Soon enough, my father caught whatever bug or infection my brothers had and he too was in the hospital.

Two weeks of going down memory lane in India turned into a three-week stay in the hospital and a serious questioning of how exactly hospitals operate in India, but that’s a discussion for another time. We get the clearance for him to fly home and get treated in Dallas.

Two days home in Dallas, and my father is still sick. We check him in and he has a serious super-bug infection contracted from the hospital resulting in a super-strong UTI and the inability to hold his urine.

A month in an American hospital and he is finally home. Ahhh okay, we can breathe again. But now, with his infection gone, we do have to face our Chewbacca.

And how did we know the Parkinson’s didn’t just magically disappear? Because he had severe urinary incontinence. Now, because of the aforementioned UTI, it did take us some time to realize his constant need to pee and inability to hold it in had something to do with Parkinson’s and not the UTI anymore. So, in August 2018, just a short eight months after getting his Green Card, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. And quite literally, there was no running away from that one.

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