What is Parkinson’s disease? This is a question many of us have asked our neurologists, but the answers can be confusing. This is because we are still learning about this disorder and it’s impact on our lives. However, we do know what Parkinson’s isn’t.
Parkinson’s isn’t curable
First and foremost, as many of you know, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease. But before you get too discouraged, if you’re going to get it, now is a great time to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We have made such huge medical advances in the last decade alone, that now we have an arsenal of weapons to use against PD. Imagine being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the early 1900’s… I shudder.
Parkinson’s isn’t just a movement disorder
Since its discovery in 1817, Parkinson’s disease was believed to only affect posture, mobility, gait, and balance. But now we realize just how PD can impact a person in a multitude of ways, including non-motor symptoms. Top offenders include: constipation, bladder control, drooling, swallowing, memory, depression, anxiety, sleep issues, cognition, and impaired executive functioning. Our Neurologists have their work cut out for them.
Parkinson’s isn’t going to kill you
Although you won’t die from having Parkinson’s disease, you can die from its complications. This can include aspiration of food, traumatic falls, infection, or sepsis. Just remember, you don’t die from Parkinson’s disease, you die with it.
Parkinson’s isn’t an old person’s disease.
Although PD is more common in the elderly population, there is a subset of Parkies who are under the age of 40. Like yours truly…
Parkinson’s isn’t gender specific
Even though there are more men diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease than women, PD doesn’t discriminate. Some of the major differences between the sexes of Parkies is hormone levels, coping skills, lifestyle choices and careers (men could possibly be more exposed to chemicals, such as pesticides).
Parkinson’s isn’t a walk in the park
When I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I was naïve to believe that I would only be inconvenienced by a slower pace or struggle with a slight tremor. That was based on the only person I knew who had Parkinson’s… Michael J. Fox. He didn’t look that bad. Maybe I will get a mild case of PD… kind of like the watered-down version. Ignorance is bliss, eh?
Oh, man was I wrong. I learned quickly that Parkinson’s would negatively impact many facets of my life and that each day will present a challenge of some sort. Parkinson’s isn’t a walk in the park. It is emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. But the one thing that you can count on is your Wolfpack (people who support you). They will take that stroll with you through the botanical garden of life.