Diagnosed at 24

I was diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson’s disease when I was 24. My symptoms probably began around age 21 and slowly progressed but they came on slowly and weren’t consistent enough for me to attribute them to much until I started having trouble walking and developed a tremor.

My earliest symptoms were weakness in my hands and poor dexterity. Then I started having muscular issues. My muscles were always tense and I started getting muscle spasms a lot. I started to feel really weak and shaky, but not visibly. Like the way you feel when you drink a lot of coffee on an empty stomach. It was like a weakness I felt in my chest. I didn’t even notice when my tremor began because I felt that way for years. My grandmother, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at 69, was the one who pointed it out to me.

I was first diagnosed by a neurologist, then was referred to a movement disorder specialist for a second opinion. They pointed out symptoms I didn’t even realize I had. I didn’t swing my right arm when I walked, my right leg also drug behind a bit. My gait was off, I couldn’t stand still or balance with my eyes closed and I was losing my sense of smell.

For nearly a full year after being diagnosed I didn’t accept treatment. I did some physical therapy and tried a holistic approach. I found that yoga was very therapeutic, more so than any other PT routine. I am now on Requip XL and Valium and have become a yoga instructor. I attribute much more of my well-being to being physically active.

I also would like to thank APDA for their support! The info on www.apdaparkinson.org has helped tremendously, especially for support after I was diagnosed, through their resources I found a local early onset support group. That group and the information on coping and understanding the disease has been very helpful!