What has your journey been like since diagnosis?
Hearing the words, “You have Parkinson’s disease” was one of those defining moments — a game changer. Yet in that very moment was my first victory. I chose to meet my fate head-on. As life went on, I learned to respect the limitations that would ensue, assess the value and importance of the things I wanted to do and learn about the things I needed to do to live well.
Looking back on the journey that began more than ten years ago, I’ve enjoyed many victories. I was able to work professionally for eight years, only to begin a twilight career in advocating and volunteering for Parkinson’s related organizations. I’ve accomplished a number of life-long dreams including building a custom classic pick-up and riding my recumbent trike across the state of Iowa. My family maintains a sense of adventure as we travel about the world and a healthy sense of humor as we experience the oddities of Parkinson's.
Everyday victories inspire me to meet each day with optimism and enthusiasm. It’s difficult living with Parkinson’s, and it doesn’t get easier, but in those moments of victory, I feel cured! I forget about the symptoms and experience calm and comfortable confidence to continue on.
How do you live well each day?
Living well every day is a choice that requires careful planning and work. While it’s important to recognize and respect your limitations, you must also assess the value and risk of the things you want to do along with the things you need to do. It starts with keeping yourself as healthy as you can. Eating well, adhering to your medication schedule, drinking lots of water and exercising are critical actions to take so you can keep doing more of what you want to do.
What do you wish you would have known when you were diagnosed that you know now about living with Parkinson's?
As you learn about Parkinson’s, your future might look pretty bleak. The words debilitating and degenerative speak loudly; however, as many have said before me, Parkinson’s is NOT a death sentence, it’s a LIFE sentence. Living with Parkinson’s is more than just possible and living well is every bit as probable.
TOM PALIZZI'S PHILOSOPHY
What do you wish everyone living with Parkinson's knew about living well?
It takes courage to live with Parkinson’s and even more to live well. Take on the challenges of the things you need to do so that you can continue to do the things you want. Living well is in the sum of all victories, big and small. Start with that first victory, meet your fate head on and choose to live well.
Tom Palizzi is a long-time member of our cohort of Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassadors. Our Ambassadors are "living well leaders" who share resources and information throughout their local and regional communities to help people take action and improve their quality of life with Parkinson’s. Connect with one of our Ambassadors and begin your journey today of living well with Parkinson’s!
SHARE YOUR VICTORY
Each month, we spotlight someone from our Parkinson’s community who embodies living well today – what we call Moments of Victory®
Your story, like Tom’s, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences and victories.