It is so sad that even today the medical world does not recognize signs of Parkinson’s. Early detection is so important! If I only knew then what I know now; studies have shown that exercise is so important to the disease and slows the progression.
Family and friends early on (late 40’s) started to notice that something was wrong with me. I will never forget my Aunt Lois saying, Genny the doctors are not getting it. There is something seriously wrong with you. With time, the symptoms were getting worse. I was afraid to tell my family doctor. He will think I’m crazy. So many people newly diagnosed have said the same thing.
Three years ago, I was finally diagnosed with the disease at the age of 56. I want to educate anyone who will listen. By the time I was diagnosed I had already lost about 70 to 80% of the chemical dopamine which allows my muscles to move.
Every year, 50,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is a brain disease associated with a loss of Dopamine producing nerve cells deep in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that helps regulate the body’s movement. Essentially, less Dopamine leads to less mobility and less control over one’s movements.
Parkinson’s is both a chronic and progressive disease. In fact tremors, slowness, or stiffness begin in most people after 80% of certain dopamine producing nerve cells have degenerated. That said, it’s important to note that each person’s experience with symptoms of Parkinson’s can vary widely.
Primary movement problems can include:
- Rest tremors, a rhythmic shaking in your arm or leg;
- Bradykinesis, or slowness in movement;
- Rigidity or stiffness in the arms, legs, neck or back muscles;
- Walking problems such as stooped posture, decreased arm swing and shuffling steps;
- Balance problems, typically experienced in the later stages of the disease.
We do not know what causes Parkinson’s disease however, scientists and researchers believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors are involved. Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease (after Alzheimer’s) in the United States, affecting between 1 million to 1.5 million Americans. The majority of cases occur in people older than 65; about 60 percent of them male.
How is Parkinson diagnosed? Because it can take so many forms and is very individualized, Parkinson’s disease can be difficult to diagnose.
We are too silent about this disease. We are afraid to tell our family and friends. I am turning 60 this year. I will no longer be silent! I have Parkinson’s.
I take one day at a time. I have a strong faith and believe in miracles. I am truly blessed to have a good support system, including my husband, family and friends. I will fight this disease till I take my last breath. I have Parkinson’s. Thank you for listening.