30 Days of Parkinson’s: When Your Superhero Discovers Parkinson’s

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30 Days of Parkinson's

Photo courtesy of Mary Beth Skylis

Day 10 of 30

This is Mary Beth Skylis’ story:

I was graduating from college when my dad got the diagnosis. He had Parkinson’s. The idea seemed foreign and impossible. This was the man who picked me up when I scraped my knees and came to the rescue just in time. But he’d noticed a tremor in his right foot when he was driving. 

We were all in denial. My parents, my five siblings, and I didn’t think it was possible. We got a second opinion. And then we got a third. Two of three professionals agreed that it was Parkinson’s. But the real test came when he began to take a small dosage of Sinemet. The tremors came to a halt, and he began to believe that he really did have Parkinson’s. 

Instead of fighting it, he began to adapt to it. He started Rock Steady Boxing, where he focused on toning his muscles and staying balanced. He experimented with metal detoxification. He changed his diet. And he continued to treat every day with curiosity instead of fear. 

It’s been eight years since his diagnosis. The challenges are plentiful, yet his spirits are high. Instead of wallowing in his misery, my dad consistently demonstrates that living is a gift. And the disease serves as a reminder to hold him even closer. So, I make it home for the holidays, I text him every morning, and I send him the occasional joke to tell him that I’m thinking of him. 

Dad is still my superhero. But his cape has changed. Today, he doesn’t pick me up off the ground anymore, but he does show me what it’s like to stand regally. Even as he battles Parkinson’s, I find myself to be proud and inspired by the man beneath the disease. He’s doing everything he can to live his fullest life. And I want to be like that. 

Note: Mary Beth Skylis writes the “Shaking Things Up” column for Parkinson’s News Today.

You can find her on Instagram @h1kertrash.

Parkinson’s News Today’s 30 Days of Parkinson’s campaign will publish one story per day for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofPAR, or go here to see the full series. 

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