The Gifts of Parkinson’s

Karl Robb

Written by Karl Robb 

I didn’t choose to get Parkinson’s in my teens. Nor did I expect to spend so much of my life trying to counteract many of the symptoms which accompany it.

Now, in my early fifties, I realize more than ever that there are lessons from this illness that can easily be missed. If we allow emotions, thoughts, feelings or anxiety to get in the way of these teaching moments, an opportunity or life lesson may get away from us.

Parkinson’s is a terrible illness. On that, we can all agree! No one wants to have it, but I’ve heard it said by top neurologists that if someone gets a neurological disorder, Parkinson’s is probably the one to get. For those of us living with Parkinson’s, and especially those of us living well with Parkinson’s, it only makes sense to share our knowledge with others.

Here are some of the many lessons I’ve learned so far:


Tenacity, stubbornness and being hard-headed have served me well on this path, but I’ve also learned the importance of being more malleable and flexible. I have learned that there are some parts of daily life that I have no control over and I must learn to just trust. Every day poses unique challenges that require my being ready to bend and shift.

Complementary Therapies

There’s a definite benefit in releasing the reigns of control and trusting in the benefits of complementary therapies to reduce anxiety and stress—just one of the lessons of living with Parkinson’s for over thirty years. Therapies like massage, yoga, reiki, exercise, boxing, dance and many others have played a big role in helping me live well and better each day. The combination of western medicine and complementary therapies have served me well, enhanced my quality of life and improved my overall health.


I think my attitude and the attitude I choose to share with others is a choice. Making the choice of a positive attitude has not only improved my relationships and how I take care of myself, but it impacts almost all aspects of my life. Attitude is a choice of how we treat ourselves and those close to us. From morning to night, I believe we have a choice about the attitude with which we live.


Parkinson’s crystalizes what is truly important in life and forces those of us who are less focused on ourselves to take an inward investigative look at who we are. Parkinson’s may change our way of moving, working and living, but it can teach us to have a deeper sense of compassion, empathy and appreciation for those affected by all types of illness. I believe that Parkinson’s magnifies the joys of life and brings a greater gratitude for the simple joys in life that are often taken for granted.

Connect with Karl

Karl Robb, who has been living with Parkinson’s disease for over thirty years, is the author of two books, A Soft Voice in a Noisy World – A Guide to Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease and the workbook Dealing and Healing with Parkinson’s Disease and Other Health Conditions. His blog and website, is over ten years old and has hundreds of archived articles you can read for free. Karl is an author, blogger and lecturer on living well with Parkinson’s. Connect with Karl at his website here.

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Comments (4)

This is powerful, insightful, moving and very helpful to those of us who are dealing with life changes of all sorts….like aging, for example.

Thank you, Karl

Thank you for reading, Abby. We’re glad it was helpful to you.

I just read your article “The Gift of Parkinson’s” and as a fellow sojourner on this 17yr journey with PD, I too have found the “gift of Parkinson’s.”

I have met amazing people, discovered new talents I didn’t know I had (I am now a artist), taken a leadership role in local support groups, and can’t imagine my life any differently.

Thank you for your positive message and inspiration.

Thank you for reading, Vera. Your perspective and attitude will take you far. As many of our community members say, Parkinson’s is not a “gift” they ever would have asked for, but they have been grateful for the many surprising joys, challenges and connections that have come as a result of it.

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