I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2018 at age 51, after experiencing a tremor in my right hand and bothersome rigidity in my right leg. I clearly remember noticing that the fingers on my right hand wouldn’t cooperate while trying to take piano lessons at age 44. My historically excellent handwriting was also taking a turn. I began a handwriting program, thinking I was using a keyboard too much and needed to exercise my hand. Every day for three months, I filled a notebook page with “A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Finally, dropping out of intense spin classes after being considered a “regular” for years due to adductor rigidity, I knew I needed to talk to a doctor. The diagnosis came as a no-brainer for the doctor, but I wasn’t convinced until I had a second and third physician opinion.
Quickly after hearing the same diagnosis, I enrolled in a clinical trial, connected with young people in my community living with Parkinson’s, joined a Rock Steady Boxing class, and ramped up my exercise regimen. Surrounding myself with a wide variety of activities, interests, and people, and pushing myself beyond what I might otherwise be more comfortable doing, has certainly kept me healthier and likely slowed the progression of my symptoms.
Living well with Parkinson’s means continuing to live an extremely full life of being a hands-on, full-time single mom while managing my home, working full-time, spending lots of time with friends, hiking, riding my Peloton, boxing, practicing yoga, taking Pilates classes, decorating, doing yard work, and cooking—to name a few. I am most excited to help others advocate for themselves and push forward into a rich and rewarding life living with Parkinson’s.