Date: February 25, 2017
Event: Spartan Sprint Las Vegas, NV
Date: March 19, 2017
Date: August 19, 2017
"Finally, I saw my doctor and she bluntly said: 'Just as I suspected: you have Parkinson’s. Statistically, to become symptomatic with Parkinson’s at age 31 is nearly impossible.'"
I have Young onset Parkinson's. I was 31, and we were expecting our first child. I noticed a slight twitch in my right hand and had frequent heartburn. I saw a gastroenterologist. I was diagnosed with a fatty liver and gastritis — inflammation of the stomach lining — but that diagnosis didn’t cure my tremor.
I was 34 years old, and my heartburn had disappeared due to my change in diet and a slight increase in exercise. For the tremor, I went to a neurologist, who concluded that I had an essential familial tremor and prescribed Primidone. I saw her regularly until a new insurance plan caused a gap between appointments. The tremor traveled from my right hand to my right foot. “This is your fault. You missed your appointment.” Primidone kept working, but it left me mentally foggy. My doctor switched me to Propranolol, which was mostly effective. But I still felt there was something else missing.
In July of 2014, I had a DAT-SPEC scan. It was supposed to rule out other conditions and hopefully confirm that I had an “essential tremor.” Something felt wrong at the outpatient clinic; the technicians were surprised to see someone my age. Weeks went by. Time moved like a snail. Finally, I saw my doctor and she bluntly said: “Just as I suspected: you have Parkinson’s. Statistically, to become symptomatic with Parkinson’s at age 31 is nearly impossible. Here are some medications, and I will see you in three weeks.” I was 34. I did not understand the diagnosis, the new medications or how to take them. I didn’t know anything about Parkinson’s (PD). Most people don’t. The most visible symptom is a resting tremor followed by slow movements, muscle stiffness and postural instability. It literally robs your ability to move. It impairs your fine and gross motor skills, let alone taking your ability to speak. Some secondary symptoms include anxiety, depression, loss of smell; sleep disturbances, cognitive issues such as slow thinking, and memory difficulties. These are just some of the symptoms associated with PD. There are many more. I took the medication and developed insomnia. I grew incredibly depressed. The news of Robin Williams having PD and Lewy Body Dementia hit me hard. I started losing my mind over this condition. I kept thinking, “Stop shaking! I can control this!” Chances are if you had a conversation with me during that time, I was only able to comprehend every third word. My wife did not know what to do.
A mutual friend recommended I see a movement disorders specialist. I was soon in the care of one of the top Parkinson’s doctors in the country, at one of the best clinics for brain health. He confirmed the PD diagnosis and changed my dosages. He spent almost two hours explaining Parkinson’s and treatments, and assured me that I would be able to live a full life with PD. He also said that exercise would be essential in slowing the rate of progression. It took several months to regulate my medication. But, I began moving. Up to this point my only experience with running was two 5K races. Today I am the first person with Parkinson's to attain multiple Spartan Race Trifectas.
It Takes a Village
I once viewed my condition as a death sentence. Now I look at it as if I was chosen to do great things. What would you endure for your love ones? I will climb mountains, run in valleys, swim rivers. I will leave no stone unturned. Everyone has their own set of obstacles they need to overcome in their life, some more than others. I used to be a person who gave up quickly, because I looked at how far I needed to go, instead of how far I had gotten. Now, I am persistent and take control to seize every opportunity. I make the most of each day.
#liveforaliving in motion
If money wasn't an object, what would I change?
Motivational Speaker, Personal Trainer, Massage Therapist and OCR athlete. I want to tell people with PD that whatever you decide, keep moving and don’t ever give up. One foot after another, move with forward progress. Don’t give up on me because I won’t give up on you. When the struggle is all you know, fighting becomes natural and quitting becomes impossible.
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