I was diagnosed with PD in September, 2009, so I'm now entering my eighth year. But since I haven't been afflicted with the typical tremor, my internist missed other clear signs that I had Parkinson's. For example, in early 2007 I complained about my right arm not swinging normally. In 2008, I complained about balance problems. My internist sent me to a physical therapist who -- I now realize -- quickly recognized that I had Parkinson's. At most sessions, he'd asked "Have you told your doctor about your right arm not swinging?"
I should have been diagnosed with PD in 2007 or 2008.
When I was first diagnosed, I contacted a neighborhood friend whose husband had died from Parkinson's a few years earlier. When I asked about the course of his illness, she told me he had lived for about ten years after his diagnosis. For the first five years, his disease was pretty easily managed, but after that things became increasingly difficult. For the last few years, he needed almost constant care.
I know how very idiosyncratic Parkinson's disease can be. I've seen, heard, and read many different reports on the progress of the disease with different individuals. But the most common pattern in these reports comes close to the journey my friend described: death often comes about ten years after diagnosis, and the final years are usually very difficult.
I hesitate to say the following for fear of jinxing myself, but here goes:
Thus far I'm still relatively comfortable someplace in stage three. My PD seems to be progressing more slowly than is typical... so far.
In future posts, I'll explore some things I believe have helped me slow down the progression of my Parkinson's disease..