The ABCs of Parkinson’s: ‘I’ Is for Invisibility

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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Sherri Journeying Through

A continuation of the “ABCs of Parkinson’s” series.

When people hear Parkinson’s disease (PD) mentioned, their memory likely turns to thoughts of Michael J. Fox or someone who shakes all the time. Their memory would serve them well. However, if that is the only thing they think of at the mention of PD, their memory needs more input.

Parkinson’s includes shaking, involuntary movements, rigidity, a stone face, an awkward gait, and other outward signs. What most people without PD aren’t aware of is that the disease is also known for invisible symptoms. Because of its invisible symptoms, it is classified as one of many invisible illnesses along with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.

Many patients aren’t even aware of some invisible symptoms that are prevalent with PD until they’re diagnosed, causing extra anxiety over how to deal with all that’s happening. Based on stories from others with PD, I would even say some doctors are even unaware of some of the signs. That is one reason it is extremely important to find a movement disorder specialist (MDS) as soon as possible. A neurologist is good, as they’re specialized in a certain niche of medicine. An MDS is better, having gone a step further and specialized within the niche of Parkinson’s itself.

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Some commonly known invisible signs are the loss of smell, handwriting changes, and fatigue. Some lesser-known signs are internal tremors, rigidity or stiffness, nightmares and difficulty sleeping, restless leg syndrome, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, poor balance, inability to get comfortable when sitting or lying down, memory problems, apathy, incontinence, constipation, drooling, and more.

Parkinson’s may appear invisible, but its symptoms are undeniable in the patient. Someone with PD may appear to be doing fine, but just ask them what’s going on beneath their skin. All may not be as it appears.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Chris Tay avatar

Chris Tay

Don't forget to Exercise! I believe that exercising sets off a positive feeback loop between your brain and your body. Your brain says "I'm going to help you" to the body and later when your done exercising, the body returns the message "Yes, I do feel better". This, in turn, helps change your attitude to "I do have some control over this disease".

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Chris- Spot on! Thanks for your comment!

Dr. C avatar

Dr. C

Wow- right on! The invisible nature of my PD is a problem with every relationship. Even though I've been on treatment for almost 5 years and I still hear from doctors, "But you look so good". As a professional care provider I know the positive effects of truly being heard.

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Dr. C - Thanks for your comment. Being heard is just about as therapeutic as being correctly treated or being cured. (Almost!)

Katherine Heely avatar

Katherine Heely

My neurologist diagnosed me in 2006 & put me on carbidopa/levodopa. I applied for disability for 2years & grew tired of answering the same questions over & over so I wrote a detailed letter to the Disability Judge concerning my job & my handwriting was not good. He called me in for an interview & okayed me for disability. In 2011 my husband divorces me & move to another state & saw 2 more neurologists over a 4 year period, they move, then I go to a 4th doctor after being on medication for 11years & he says I don`t have it. It was good news but this misdiagnosis cost me my career, divorce, depression, emotional & psychological distress. Three doctors got to play God with my life & no lawyer wants to handle a case for misdiagnosis, so I will do it myself. What man would want me again knowing I had PD! None! Now I am 66, poor & what man would want me? This experience has impacted my life in so many ways that no one can possibly understand but I will again write to a Judge about the negative impact on my life. All the doctors wanted to do was make some money & not pay attention to my supposed ailment because what do they care? They specialized in the greed of making money. The 2nd one even said I might have only 12 more good years left. All I got from a lawyer was that PD is hard to diagnose & they can`t be blamed. Why do we go to a doctor for? The 1st neurolgist even had lewd & lacivious behavior towards me


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