In late 2010, I was 53 and had just started an exciting new job in Tokyo, Japan. I was too busy to notice other early symptoms of Parkinson’s but noticed that my left hand was less coordinated in simple tasks like buttoning my shirts. The next year, my left-hand symptoms had become more noticeable, but a CT scan showed nothing abnormal. In early 2012, a neurologist in Virginia detected my left side bradykinesia and suspected Parkinson’s. A levodopa test proved a Parkinson’s diagnosis that summer, and my official journey began at age 55.
My Parkinson’s symptoms progressed very slowly and had very little impact on my life during the first few years. I continued to work and ran three miles a day. By 2015, I began to have noticeable gait issues, left side muscle cramping, and voice impacts. JI noticed that my symptoms would worsen whenever I would fly back and forth from Asia and in times of stress or anxiety.
I decided to leave my job in 2017 and focus on my health. I currently work with a movement disorder clinic in Dallas to manage my symptoms and medication, and I have the tremendous support of a large, loving family. As an Ambassador, I hope to spread the messages that people with Parkinson’s can live well by becoming well-informed, taking action, and staying engaged in life.