Stacy Challenged…Not Defeated! DIAGNOSED AT 39 My name is Stacy I am a mother of four healthy seven year olds (yes 4!) They are my surviving sextuplets and my utmost joy. One of my sweet boys has autism and I have been very active in the autism community. I work as a cardiac nurse practitioner. One day in March 2010 I was using my hands to demonstrate the structure of the heart when I noticed my left hand shaking. I brushed it off as probably having too much caffiene (although I hadn’t had any) and went about my day. The tremor never went away. Over the next year and a half the tremors progressed and the stiffness set in. With my medical background I had a pretty good idea about what was going on. Being firmly planted in denial, I refused to seek medical care. After all, without a diagnosis, it wasn’t real. I had managed to hide my symptoms largely from everyone…even my husband. He noticed my tremor and gently encouraged me to seek care. Finally, I was attempting to put my white coat on to see my hospitalized patients one day and I could no longer put my arm in my jacket. I called my primary care and made an appointment. After an MRI to rule out MS I went to a neurologist. She diagnosed my almost immediately and placed me on a dopamine agonist challenge. This was 11/21/12 – right before Thanksgiving. I allowed myself to cry for exactally seven minutes before I pulled myself together and drove home. My husband was sick with worry and fear, so was I. I took the medicine faithfully and prayed it would not work. If it worked, the diagnosis would be confirmed. Much to my chagrin, it worked. My tremors were less and I could put my jacket on without a problem. I was both relieved and crushed. I immediately sought out medical journals to arm myself with information and set my plan in place for facing this. When I found that there was a great “unknown” when it comes to the course of the disease I found that hard to accept. I am a planner, I need to know I can work for x number of years, the progression of symptoms will follow x pattern etc. I have read so many inspirational stories on here of people doing great things after their diagnosis. I would love to say I am one of those doing great things. My accomplishment, simple as it is, is to get through a day. Take care of my kids, don’t scare them to death by acting “sick”. Take care of my patients. Be a good friend, a good wife. Defeat something (5k mud run in August). While I may not be moving mountains, I have Parkinson’s it does not have me….and I fight to remember that every day. I am living in the moment, learning to take things one day at a time. Plan for the future, but don’t be so obsessed with when I become disabled that I forget I am not disabled now! I am doing all those things I have been putting off, and I love it!