David’s Story

I was first diagnosed just about a year ago after my cardiologist noticed that I was dragging my left foot when I walked and that I had a slight hand tremor. He didn’t specifically mention PD but strongly recommended I see a Neurologist ASAP.

Fortunately, my wife was present and pressed me to agree to follow his recommendation. A few weeks later, I was examined by a well-regarded Neurologist in Philadelphia and given the bad news.

We discussed the implications of this diagnosis and determined that I had been exhibiting several other symptoms for several years but had been just ignoring them as part of the normal aging process (I was 68 at the time).

We discussed treatment options and the regimen I’m on has been quite successful so far.

One of the other revelations during that visit was that my PD may have been related to exposure to Agent Orange during my Army tour in Vietnam in 1970 and ‘71.

Returning home, we began the “acceptance” process and quickly recognized that the Neurologist was right when he indicated I’d been symptomatic for several years. I’d been struggling with handwriting, keyboarding and public speaking for some time and fatigue was becoming increasingly common. The more we discussed my situation, the more we realized how long I’d been increasingly symptomatic.

Over the next several months, we made some major changes; chief amongst them was that I closed down my consulting business and “retired”.

A year later, we are still adjusting and trying to determine exactly what this PD “thing” is all about.

One good thing that we discovered was that after 30 years of denial, the Veterans Administration had finally recognized PD as a “presumptive result” of Agent Orange exposure and granted me a full disability and full health care coverage. After years of hearing nothing but horror stories about the VA, I’ve been surprised by the quality of care and the positive attitude of all the VA professionals I’ve dealt with. Just their assumption of all of my medication costs has been a great financial relief.

As I said, we are still feeling our way through this experience and still have a lot to learn. Something new seems to pop up every day, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

We just try to keep moving forward.

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