Angela My Aha Moment DIAGNOSED AT 33 Well, I guess I will start by telling you that I am a 39 year old wife, and mother of 4, ages 2,4,9, and 12. Our journey began in February (2005). I remember it was the day after Super Bowl Sunday – what seems to be a national holiday in our household!! Well, anyway, that was the date I had decided to make my doctors appointment for. I had been having very weird tremor like movement in my left hand, At some moments, it was actually a little entertaining to me – of course, that was before I knew what was in store for me! My doctor went through all of the normal physical exam questions, and we were just about finished, when I came up with enough courage to tell him about this silly and annoying problem I’ve been having. I almost skipped this part, because after all, it was probably nothing…He checked the movement in my wrist and rotated my arm, did a couple other things, then started asking questions like…are you more tired than normal, is there a history of Parkinson’s in your family… Uh- could you repeat that last question please! This is really a foggy memory in my mind, especially after that last question. The next thing I know I’m getting MRI’s, CAT scans, blood tests, urine tests, and then off to see a Neurologist we go. Well, this appointment was the one that really hit home for us. As my husband and I sat in the office, answering “yes” to many questions and watching the doctors faces as I walked up and down the hall, not swinging my left arm, it became painfully obvious to the both of us, that we weren’t getting out of this appointment with a “whew, that was a close call” feeling! After more tests, heavy metals, Cat scans…it was finally said, “Well, ‘Early Onset Parkinson’s’ but, because you are soo young, we really don’t want to label you just yet.” So, off to Pittsburgh I go to another neurologist for a final diagnosis. This one, I will never forget! It was July 29, 2005 – Our 10 year wedding anniversary. Well, needless to say, we left there knowing for sure that at the age of 33, I had Early onset Parkinson’s…now what?! For those few months, it was an absolute roller coaster ride! I didn’t show much emotion, because I had a family who was sad and I didn’t want them to be. So, I painted on a smile, and put on my let’s all be brave suit and walked around as if it were nothing. Then, something happened to me. I started opening up my bible and reading it, and praying more and more, perhaps for help to keep up this outside lie of how brave I was! But, as I continued to lean on the Lord, I realized that – I wasn’t so upset anymore – I wasn’t sad, but I was happy. I was happier than I was pre-diagnosis! Then, I remembered that story about the footprints in the sand, and I realized that the Lord was carrying me through this storm! What an absolute blessing! I put my trust in him, and he took my burden away! Now, I still have Parkinson’s, and there are still bad days…but I know that Jesus loves me, and if I let him be the driver in my life, everything works out. I was raised in church. I prayed every day and went to church on holidays, but it was out of habit, and not through faith. One year before my diagnosis, we started attending church regularly for the sake of our children. When my trial came about, it wasn’t odd for me to open my bible and pray – and for that I am truly thankful to my parents for instilling this in my heart. Since that day in July, I have gone back to things in my past that I enjoyed and let go because of my “busy” life. I now enjoy running. I hadn’t ran in 15 years, but a really wonderful friend brought that back into my life, now my husband and I started an organization to raise money for Parkinson’s Disease and we even race together! I know I am blessed to still be able to run, and I want to use my ‘gift’ for as long as I can. I feel blessed in many areas of my life. Since dx, I have met the most amazing people and have done the most amazing things. I recently was able to share my story through Mutual of Omaha in an aha moment video: http://ahamoment.com/moments/2082. Life after Parkinson’s Disease dx isn’t over,it’s just different than I planned, but maybe so much better!