Leah Accepting and Embracing Challenges DIAGNOSED AT 23 Today, October 10, 2013. I decided to finally accept my challenges and embrace them. My name is Leah. I live in the Dallas, TX area. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in August 2011. As we all know, the diagnoses process for YOPD is a bit lengthy. It took 2 years, every neurological test I could imagine, and 3 neurologists. Here is a piece of the long road to the diagnosis. At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. So, you could say I’ve been on some form of neurological medications since then. I had quite a few seizures, but they finally were controlled with the proper medication and stopped occurring at the age of 15. Of course being a young teenager, the only thing I was upset about was I had to be “seizure free” for 2 years, which meant I could not get my drivers license until the age of 17. If only I knew that was going to be one of my smallest problems when it came to my health, I wouldn’t have snuck out my parents car like I did. That never ends well. Anyways, I went on to live a happy and healthy life, finished high school, gave a college a shot. Possibly made a few bad decisions on the way, but I would never take them back. Every thing started to change around the age of 21. My so called ” perfect handwriting ” became almost illegible. My classmates and friends would notices my hands shaking here and there, I just thought I was over caffeinated or needed to eat some food with actual nutrition. I’ve always been a petite female with the appetite of a grown man, but that began to diminish. I LOVED food. As a kid I always wanted to open a bakery due to my love for warm sweets. It was as if I woke up one day and wanted to break up with my love for food. My weight began to drop and people started to notice. I knew something was wrong, I wasn’t myself. At the age of 22, my seizures returned and with vengeance might I add. I began more neurological exams and finally a neurologist noticed my tremor. There was something more going on, more than just the return of one annoying seizure disorder. So after years of testing, my symptoms continued to get worse. Finally in 2012, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I didn’t understand. I didn’t take it seriously. I was started on the lower end of the medication scale, but am now on the heavy duty stuff due to my symptoms getting worse on a rapid scale. I now take Sinemet, Requip, and Amantadine. The side effects aren’t the best, but I’ve learned to deal. I will not let Parkinson’s pave my path; it will just have to tag along on the adventure that will be my life. The main reason I decided to finally reach out and tell my story, is because of the lack of resources and support in my area for people living and caring for those with Parkinson’s Disease. When I was diagnosed, I searched site after site looking for support groups, fundraising events, etc. I was left with little to nothing to work with. So I have lived with my Parkinson’s alone, not being able to share or relate to anyone who shares the daily challenges I face. That is going to change. I have decided to take it upon myself to first start a support group in my area, how it will go..I’m not sure. But I won’t stop trying. I hope to be able to start a fundraiser of my own. And, by telling my story, I can reach out to others who might have the same struggles as myself. I want to help others face their challenges by sharing what I often find is the comedic side of Parkinson’s. There is nothing funny about being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but to me a good laugh is the best way to overcome your biggest obstacles. So I’m going to venture out and begin a support group in my area. So wish me luck, and I hope to hear from others along the way. I have enjoyed reading many of your personal stories, they have greatly inspired me to take charge of my life. For that I wish everyone the best. I hope to bring more resources to this southern city of mine for those with PD, and just as importantly for the ones who care for those of us with PD. Thank You !