Diagnosed at 47

I will not go into the details of my diagnosis, as all of us have been through the shock, anger, disbelief, denial, etc. What I want my story to convey is that there is life after diagnosis. My motto is “Live with Parkinson’s, don’t LIVE Parkinson’s.” I did not let this disease define me–I hear people call themselves “parkies.” This makes me cringe. I am not a disease. I live with Parkinson’s in the background, yes, it always there, but if you let come into the foreground, it will consume you. This is my advice to anyone newly diagnosed:

1. FIRST (this is important) align yourself with a neurologist AND a movement disorder specialist, who will work together to help with your medications. Having this team will aid in your wellness.

2. Continue working as long as you can. This gives you purpose and gives you something else to think about.

3. Set goals for yourself — plan trips, decide to take up a new hobby, plan to purchase that sewing machine or new furniture you’ve always wanted. Don’t stop living.

4. Be SOCIAL!!! Participate in group activities, hobby groups, invite friends for dinner, go out to dinner, play cards or games. Volunteer in your community or church. Keep busy.

5. And finally, the absolute MUST — EXERCISE!!! Walk, go to a fitness center, join a group, form a group, hike, do the Wii, dance, get an exercise or dance DVD. Exercise is the greatest thing you can do for yourself and the most important part of a treatment program