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I am a Person with Parkinson’s who was diagnosed prior to my 37th birthday. Hearing those words, “You have Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease,” I’ll never forget those feelings of confusion, heartache and not knowing where to turn for help. I had three kids still in school and I was working full-time. Then I felt I didn’t exactly know what Parkinson’s meant but I didn’t have time for it.
I quickly learned over the last 8 years that my lifestyle was going to have to change as “Mr. P” (Mr. Parkinson’s) had its own plans for me. After going through the most unique and powerful self-observation, self-healing, Deep Brain Stimulation, I understood that this is simply a new chapter in my life.
I may not be able to skydive like I did before, but I’m learning how to navigate and enjoy life within itself. My perspective on most things is that I cannot lose my sense of humor. I am determined to make the rest of my years, the best of my years, one day at a time.
But I’m only 43, I can’t have Parkinson’s.” That was my reaction when I was first told I likely had PD. It took another year of doctors to confirm that diagnosis.
I spent several years wrestling, bargaining, and finally accepting that I had this progressive disease. I had reached a crossroads of “now what?” Do I sit around feeling sorry for myself and let this disease consume me? Or do I take charge of my future and live my life to the fullest for as long as I can. Please read further to see how I came to terms with Parkinson’s Disease.
On a warm summer morning during one of my usual early Saturday morning rounds of golf at the Brookshire, I took an extra moment on the tee box, allowing all of my senses to take in the picture-perfect morning. Without warning, tears began streaming down my face. Although I had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s six years earlier, it wasn’t until this perfect moment in time that I was overcome with the reality that I have an incurable progressive disease which will someday likely rob me of moments like this and take away my ability to play the game that I love so much. This was the inspiration for the golf outing I host each year.
With help from my wife, Brenda, my daughter Madison, my Mom, my Dad, and many others along the way, our golf outing has grown into something far beyond anything I ever could have imagined. It has given me something positive on which to focus my time and energy. It has resulted in the formation of Making the Turn Against Parkinson’s and helped me find a voice I never knew I had. It has granted me peace of mind knowing I have a connection to golf despite what the future may hold for me. But most importantly, it has provided me the opportunity to make many new friends and meet a lifetime of interesting people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
To quote my own personal motto, “I cannot say being diagnosed with Parkinson’s has been a good thing. But I can say, good things have happened to me because I have Parkinson’s.”
Whether meeting on the course or by phone, I hope I by sharing my experience with Young Onset Parkinson’s and Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, I can help you better understand your own Parkinson’s journey.