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Freehold, NJ 07728
My Parkinson’s symptoms began when I was 47, but I wasn’t diagnosed with Parkinson’s until I was 49. My earliest symptoms were bradykinesia, overwhelming fatigue, skin problems, micrographia, and an inability to write. I couldn’t form letters on paper or the chalkboard. I’d been teaching for 25 yrs and was devastated by the necessity of taking early retirement. But it was either that, or start on Sinemet, which I’d already learned had a limited therapeutic shelf life of maybe 5-7 years. Then what? I was too young for that!
I’m now 70 yrs old and still productive and mobile for at least half of each day. I’ve taken many falls, breaking both shoulders, and shattering a knee cap, all in separate tumbles. Two of them were due to my extremely low blood pressure – orthostatic hypotension- for which I now take medicine. I just started using a walker this year. I can still lower myself down to the floor for some yoga stretches each day and smoothly arise afterward. (One can stretch and tone on the floor without having to worry about falling!)
These days, my non-motor symptoms can be more debilitating than the physical. Depression and anxiety are two uninvited presences I’d wish I could break up with. Stress is another entity we Parkies try hard to avoid.
This past year has been especially stressful for me as my husband & I moved out of our home of 35 yrs, and into a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community). This was a huge physical and emotional challenge, and we’re still adjusting to our new home. Needing to downsize, I no longer have a separate room dedicated to the daily yoga/stretching/meditation practice I’d maintained for 30 years. Whatever injuries I sustained, whenever depression took hold of me, I could always escape into that room and rearrange my energy. I’m trying to find an area in our new apartment that will provide the same opportunity for uniting mind and body.
A lot has been learned about Parkinson’s in the last 25 years, thanks in large part, to Michael J Fox who came out of the closet, so to speak, shortly before I was likewise diagnosed. He ushered in a public awareness of the disease that had not previously existed. Looking back, I suspect that by today’s definitions, I’d likely have been Dx’d with Early (Young) Onset PD, which often follows a different trajectory.
I’ve gained a few insights over the years that I’m happy to share. But, as you’re all aware, PD is a disease that affects everyone differently, and my perceptions have been processed through my own personal filters and will often be different from yours. Also, I type very slowly, which limits how much time I can allot to the task of writing.
I look forward to what I will learn from you!
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