Turning struggles into strengths while living with Parkinson’s

How we've found useful lessons among the difficulties of this disease

Jamie Askari avatar

by Jamie Askari |

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Every person and family is dealt a deck of cards in their lifetime. Some of them may be in perfect order and the cards in pristine condition without a crease or a bend. Other decks, however, may be worn and weathered, even missing a few cards. We may never know what type of deck others are handed, as many people keep their torn and broken cards hidden from the world.

In 2009, my husband, Arman, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at age 38. Unlike other diagnoses that require an immediate spring-into-action mentality, the slow progress of his Parkinson’s symptoms allowed our family to have on-the-job training in dealing with it. Thankfully, just as my husband moved slowly because of his Parkinson’s, the progression moved slowly, as well.

People often tell me how much they admire my strength, grit, and positive attitude. After reading my first column here at Parkinson’s News Today, a dear friend called to say almost those exact words. She also told me how brave I was to open up my life to the world and share the stories of our journey. While I appreciate the kind words and praise, I don’t need to be given any special awards or pats on the back.

My goal in writing my column, “The Bright Side,” was to offer the caregiver’s perspective for anyone dealing with Parkinson’s. I hoped to bring a positive spin on a situation that isn’t typically seen as a positive. I want to help others through difficult times and hopefully offer a laugh or a smile.

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Lessons amid the challenges

I don’t feel that I’m reacting any differently than I would’ve if Parkinson’s weren’t a part of our lives. The truth is that everything my family’s gone through feels normal to me. Although it’s not how I envisioned our lives, I believe that things happen for a reason. At this point, I couldn’t imagine our family without Parkinson’s; it’s just who we are.

One of the most challenging parts of our story is that my children had to grow up with so much adversity in their young lives. Watching their dad deal with his daily battle with Parkinson’s hasn’t been easy, but I always try to look at the positive side.

For instance, I continue to remind myself that Arman’s diagnosis has taught my kids a million and one valuable lessons that they wouldn’t have been taught otherwise. They’ve learned about empathy, kindness, strength, patience, resilience, and, unfortunately, pain and suffering. Thus, growing up with a parent who has a chronic illness has helped shape them into strong, independent, resilient, and kind young adults.

While you can’t choose what type of deck you’ll be handed in life, you can choose how you play your cards. Play them right, and you may end up seeing the bright side of every situation, and because of that, you’ll have won the game!

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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


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