January 18, 2011

9 Reasons Why 2010 -- my first year with a Parkinson's diagnosis -- was the best of my 81 years

New Year’s Day 2011 marked the end of my first calendar year after my diagnosis with Parkinson's in September 2009. So this is a good time to pause and reflect on where I've been and where I'm going. I've concluded, surprisingly, that the past year was probably my best ever. Reading this, you might well wonder ---

If your first year with a PD diagnosis was your best, were your earlier years that miserable?

On the contrary, I've had a pretty good life. Professionally, within a month of leaving Cornell in 1955, I landed an editorial job at BNA, an employee-owned legal publisher in Washington, DC, where I enjoyed a 40-year career in labor relations and employment law, rising to become a board member and vice president of HR by the time I retired.

Personally, my life changed for the better once I got sober and came out in 1978, but my kids make me grateful for the years I tried to hide in a marriage, and to this day, I have yet to find anyone with whom I'm as compatible as I was with my now-deceased wife.
When I got sober and became honest about my innate nature, I quickly acquired a community and support network of others who were going through the same struggles. My life since then has been full of fun, friends, and rewards. Those first exhilarating years of being sober and out are close runner-ups for the "Best Year" award. But 2010 still wins the gold medal for the reasons briefly listed below. (Separate posts follow elaborating on each reason if you are interested in a fuller explanation.)

1. PD has given me a new focus, challenge, and cause.
2. Knowing what I'm dealing with and using the PD meds and exercises has restored my spirits, energy, and drive.
3. 5-HTP has alleviated my depression, insomnia, and constipation, greatly enhancing the quality of my life. It also has had some interesting side effects. (See separate post below.)
4. Working on this blog definitely adds to the quality of my life, I love doing this!
5. My PD support group and online support networks give me a community for sharing our experience, strength, and hope … and laughs.
6. I've returned to meditation and find it to be more helpful than ever, particularly when combined with 5-HTP.
7. Exercise has been a BIG factor in making 2010 my best year ever.
8. My days are more filled than ever with activities that keep me interested and involved.
9. Last and definitely not least, my already strong support network of family and friends got even stronger in 2010.

No problems? Of course the past year has not been problem-free, Life always is a hassle. One of my best friends lost his 15-year struggle with cancer last year. Several friends have been hard-hit by the recession. Others are struggling with health problems and the lack of affordable insurance. My libido seems to be sinking and almost disappearing (which might be a blessing given my past history). 

Enough about me. How about you? I’d love to hear from you about how you’ve been dealing with any of these issues. Also this blog will be posting a report each week on research done in answer to inquiries or comments submitted by readers like you. (I love doing internet research.)



Rusty said...

Thanks for this upbeat posting. Made my day.


Drew said...

John -- I'm further down the Parkinson's road than you and am having more problems than you. I just wish I'd had a positive guide like this when I was starting down the road. But I still intend to try out some of the things you've suggested. Thanks.


Susan said...

My brother had PD and so I'm well aware of the challenges you face. I think the blog is a great idea! Susan

Jan Smart said...

Hi John - thanks for providing both those with PD and those who have family and friends with PD a place to listen and learn, and share.


Anonymous said...

Hello, John,
Once again, you are trailblazer and beacon for many people. Wish you the best on this road and this endeavor to share your expereiences with others.
Thanks for the opportunity to do blogs, as I remain a bit backward in all of this.
Best wishes and love.
Anonymous aka Jim S. on Capitol Hill

Bob said...

John, I was unaware of your current struggle even though I did know (through Steven of course) that you had considered moving into a support facility. My mother had PD for the last 15 years of her life, and your remedies sound very appropriate to me.

I think growing old presents blessings and challenges for us all. Those of us, like you, you are lucky enough, find a way of making the changes a new horizon, not a grim final chapter.

Zahed said...

Hi John,
I'm really glad to know more about PD by your blog. Its true that " There is a will, there is a way". God bless you.

Bert said...

John -- You mention your concerns about dementia and Alzheimer's. I understand having PD increases those risks. What do you know -- or can research -- about that? -- Bert

Pat said...

Wow! Alison, you are such an evocative writer! No doubt that one cay you will travel to a place where there is no highway 'buzz', no sirens, no apartments, no shopping centers and no loud automobiles. And hopefully, you will write more blogs about your experiences!

You have a wonderful way of causing the reader to relate to the feelings of the snow leopard, so you have already made a difference!

Keep me in the loop!

John said...

Glad it helped brighten your day, Rusty. We need all the help we can get. -- John

Gleeson4 said...

Hey Drew -- Let me know what you try that helps and what doesn't work. Also remember I do a weekly research report in reply to question submitted by viewers so don't hesitate to ask.

John said...

Thanks Susan. I gather from your use of the past tense that your brother is no longer with us. Sorry.

Paule14 said...

Have you tried getting Azilect from the the manufacturer? Years ago when they were first talking about it but it wasn't approved here yet, we bought some from Israel. Seems like we paid $125 for a months supply.

PhyllisForbes said...

Hi John, Love you Blog :) looking forward too reading it often..

John said...

Thanks. I'll check this out when I get closer to the donut hole.

John said...

Thanks, Phyllis. Keep coming back!

sghimire25@hotmail.com said...

Hi John
I wish and hope that everything is all right with u , thanks to share the blog that I know more about u now....Always takecare God blesses !!

Charles Macknee, MA said...


Well, the above pretty much answers my question about PD and how you are doing with it. Thanks. As I indicated, I may be dealing with PD if I survive long enough, so any/all info is helpful!
~Charlie Macknee

John Schappi said...

Glad the posting helped, Charlie.  Keep us posted on your progress (or, rather, your lack of progress in the direction of Parkinson's.)