Scott Eltringham was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease shortly after his 31st birthday in 1999. Scott has ridden his bicycle more than 25,000 miles while living with Parkinson’s, including a self-supported ride from Seattle to San Francisco and another from Boston to Bangor, Maine.
His first symptoms were the inability to rapidly wiggle his right fingers, and a tension in his right leg while cycling. Several months of testing revealed that Scott had Parkinson’s disease. Fortunately, medication worked well for him for the next six years. Scott writes, “For me, Parkinson’s is less about spasmodic movements, but rather, about slowed movement, like moving in molasses without the sense of resistance, more pronounced on my right side. The side effect was dyskinesia, sometimes so bad that it was difficult to sit in a chair. Due to the worsening side effects of the medication and two bad bike falls, I had to stop bicycling in September 2005 – permanently, I thought.”
Scott made the difficult decision to have Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery later that year. The surgery improved his life enormously, almost eliminating troublesome nighttime and morning dystonia, caused by withdrawal from the medication. An adjustment to the DBS a year later curbed the dyskinesia significantly enough that Scott got on his bike again on Memorial Day in 2007.
Riding the Revolution
When Scott had the surgery, he had an idea in his head that he would ride the Sunflower Revolution as his comeback ride in 2007. “As I neared the finish, I was reflecting on the outstanding support of the other members of Team Cholesterol, many of whom drove to Cincinnati to ride with me. Then as I crossed the finish line, the ride announcer said that we had raised more money than any of the other teams. What was already a powerful moment blossomed into a feeling so strong that it brought tears to my eyes. When I found that Davis was waiting at the finish line for my team, it was all I could do to hold myself together.”
“I do not think of myself as a hero, despite being called that by several people. My heroes are people like my wife, Sarah, and my friends and riding companions on Team Cholesterol; people who walk beside me not because they have to, but because they choose to,” Scott says.
I think I inspire people with my attitude. My thinking is this: I can live ‘worried’ or ‘not worried’; either way, I’ll get wherever I’m going. I know which way I’d rather spend my time. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but that’s my philosophy.
“Part of what keeps me going is riding; both in the physical and mental sense,” Scott concludes. “Physically, use it or lose it. Mentally, no matter what the Parkinson’s or medication side effects are doing to me, the riding is refreshing.”
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 Scott’s, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences and victories.