What is Parkinson’s

Many people have asked me over the years just what is Parkinson’s. This was posted on FaceBook  and after reading it I knew I had to share it, has the saying goes I couldn’t have said it better.

But what exactly am I?

I’m a progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity and slow, imprecise movement, and many non-motor side effects. I cause degeneration of the basal ganglia resulting in a deficiency of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which is responsible for sending signals between the nerve cells, the neurons, of the brain. I’m an uninvited and most unwelcome intruder wherever I take up residency.

Each year around 60k people in the US are diagnosed as having a form of Parkinson’s. In 1990 there were 2.5 million people with Parkinson’s in the United States; by 2016, that number had grown to 6.1 million   I’m stoked that I’m getting more popular each year.
I am not a death sentence; I am a life altering condition. I’m sneaky; I’m difficult to diagnose unless I’ve already been successful in doing considerable damage. To avoid boredom, I make sure I remain unpredictable; Although all People with Parkinson’s share similar impairments, it’s impossible to predict in how many ways or how rapidly I will take over someone’s body. I get great satisfaction in seeing the spouse of a Person with Parkinson’s struggle to stay emotionally and physically strong. It’s an exhausting situation. Who could have anticipated what lay ahead when they spoke the words “in sickness and in health, ‘til death us do part?”

I’m willing to admit that I do have the decency to recognize that these are brave heroes whose love and dedication shine through daily. I suppose I could be kind and reassure them it’s only human to get frustrated with their spouse; that their anger and worry and exhaustion are to be expected, understood, and forgiven. But that would take all the fun out of it for me now, wouldn’t it?

Medicines that help control my symptoms can have interesting side effects such as intense urges to gamble, shop, binge eat and take part in excessive sexual activity which may even include watching pornography for the first time! The Persons with Parkinson’s who most frustrate me are those who fight me through exercise, speech therapy, and socialization. They get massages, physical and occupational therapy, and even Botox shots for their muscle rigidity. Dancing, music, singing, walking, exercising, all tend to thwart my evil ways! Rock steady boxing and bicycle riding are touted as being the most beneficial but I know that even self-directed walking can be just as effective at making living with me much easier, and all these activities are thought to not only help with the symptoms but they may also slow my progression. This, of course, makes my job of doing the most damage possible much harder.

And when a Person with Parkinson’s passes away? Don’t blame me! I didn’t kill them. Some of them lived long and productive lives with me tagging along. If I did my job well, the later years of a Parkinson’s patient were sad, painful, and extremely challenging. And especially difficult for his or her loved ones. But hey, I’ve got a job to do!

Presently, claims abound for treatments to cure me, but I am stubborn and, happily for me, to date none has proved to be effective. Many new drugs are being tested, including one in Dublin, Ireland, which sounds very promising. It has cured Parkinson’s in mice. Human clinical trials are commencing by year’s end and The Michael J. Fox Foundation just provided one million dollars in funding. This could be the drug to cure not only Parkinson’s, but also Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease and even cardiovascular diseases. Makes me feel weak just thinking about it. For then, what’s to become of me?

This has been Monica’s Parkinson’s Disease speaking. Knowing her as I do, she’ll just have to add her two cents worth, so now I’m “outa here”. 2/3 Monica speaking: April 11, 2019, was World Parkinson’s Awareness Day. That’s why I allowed that reprehensible entity to have its say. It’s been over three years since I was diagnosed. This journey I’m on is scary at times and challenging, but it also has an amazingly wonderful proverbial Silver Lining. Through my membership in the Persons with Parkinson’s family I’ve made endearing and enduring friendships. This, my second family, enhances my life in innumerable ways. We laugh, we socialize, we encourage each other. We care deeply about each other and those of us with faith beliefs pray for each other. We help each other when we can and we hurt for each other. We shed tears when one of us is no longer around. And some of us have been fortunate in finding a neurologist who treats us not only as patients but as friends.

My dear Irish mother would undoubtedly call all this “A Blessing in Disguise” – and I would surely agree.
Monica W. Martin – April 18, 2019


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s