Around 2014, I noticed slight changes in the way I was moving. I was very slow getting into and out of my car, periodically shuffled my feet when I walked, and could no longer stand at a sink without leaning on it. I attributed these symptoms to aging and normal fatigue, and because they didn’t prevent me from going about his normal physical routine, I didn’t think too much of these slight changes. After a recommendation from my primary care doctor to see a neurologist, however, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 55.
My initial reaction was calm and introspective. In one way, I was relieved to know what was going on and immediately wanted to know more about Parkinson’s. Learning that there is no cure, I felt my future was predestined and limited. Still, I didn’t feel anger, fear, resentment, or sadness. I focused on what I have done in my life and how that influences my perspective. I have been teaching dance in my community for more than 25 years. I enjoy the physical feel-good aspect of dance, and I also understand and appreciate how dance benefits us mentally as well.
As I face the challenges of Parkinson’s, I keep my focus on experiences and values. Through inspiring meetings with Parkinson’s support organizations and networks in my area, I have created a whole new perspective on Parkinson’s. Living well with Parkinson’s means maintaining optimism during challenging times (when the symptoms are high) and taking the opportunity to be my authentic self and share my hopes and dreams with people who have similar experiences. The Parkinson’s community inspires me, and the support and encouragement I get from being involved are invigorating. As an Ambassador, I am looking forward to sharing what has sustained me through this journey and meeting people from all over to work through the challenges of Parkinson’s.