At the age of 55, with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD) for over 30 years, my voice has been joined by a host of influential voices asking for change with the intent of improving the health and wellness of those dealing with Parkinson’s Disease. As more and more people are struck with Parkinson’s disease, the urgency to end Parkinson’s gets more dire!
Those of us living with the illness as well as our care partners, caregivers, and close relatives, are all well aware of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual toll that Parkinson’s can take. Unless you live with the disease on a daily basis, it is difficult to comprehend the wide range of symptoms, drug side-effects, and varying degrees of overall health issues that are truly Parkinson’s related—but I ask, how much real awareness is there of this disease?
I will not tell you that having Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a walk in the park. This disease can dictate your life and clutter your schedule every which way. I have seen it take its’ toll on many a marriage and family. I have also seen PD bring people together and strengthen family bonds.
How you and your friends and family deal with your diagnosis of PD will play a large part in how you deal with this illness. Some friends are going to be your rock and will be there when you need them the most. Sadly, you may see some friends crumble and possibly distance themselves from you. This is the unfortunate reality that some friends can’t go beyond a certain limit of friendship. It is my belief that sometimes friends are more unable to cope with PD than the patient.
April has been declared to be Parkinson’s Awareness Month. So, I pose this question to you—what does that mean? If you or someone you care about is dealing with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), I hope that maybe you will volunteer for your favorite organization, consider a donation of time and/or money for advocacy, educate the onlooker to why you move the way you do, or just educate yourself, and those around you, about the illness. I encourage you to become a PD Avenger and advocate for the end of Parkinson’s disease!
Spreading awareness and information, when at all possible is key. Consider sharing your story with the uninitiated and those who are unfamiliar with Parkinson’s, for this offers an opportunity to demystify an illness that is so unique for each individual. Let’s not limit Parkinson’s awareness to just 30 days!