I can’t imagine where I’d be…

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 53 on May 20, 2014, and did not share the news for months while I tried to accept the diagnosis emotionally. In watching my mother live with the disease, I was concerned about how the diagnosis would affect my own life and how quickly the symptoms would appear and get worse. I had been an active wife and mother and worked full-time as a computer support analyst at a medical clinic when I began having symptoms of Parkinson’s several years before I was diagnosed. It was hard to get up and going in the morning as well as handling the long stressful work days sitting for 8 hours and answering the phone.  At first, I wondered if turning 50 really felt this bad or was there something else wrong with me.

Life started getting better the day my husband and I attended a local Parkinson’s disease support group and On With Life’s Outpatient Director, Tammy Miller, was the guest speaker. Tammy shared the details about the Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) program that On With Life offers. After her presentation, we spoke with her about the program and I told her I was interested in attending the program, but concerned about how I could fit the training in my schedule while still working.  The staff at On With Life were willing to come in extra early 4 days a week for the 4 week training sessions to accommodate my work schedule.

I found out what there are people who live with this disease for years, and I just decided that I had a job to do in making my life as normal as possible.  I was just determined to do whatever it would take to get there by starting the LSVT program.

The staff at On With Life are remarkable for so many reasons.  They make me feel that they are fighting the disease with me, every step of the way!  The LSVT program makes me feel as close to normal as I can imagine, even three years after being diagnosed. I also participate in On With Life’s boxing classes twice a week, which incorporates the BIG exercises.  The LSVT program exercises along with the boxing classes make me feel free of Parkinson’s symptoms on most days.  I have even had friends and family tell me that if they didn’t know I had the disease, they could not even tell, because I look and appear so healthy.

During this adjustment in my life over the past few years, I have got to know a remarkable group of people who share the same diagnosis as me and I feel an extra closeness which is truly special. I can’t imagine where I’d be without the On With Life staff and my friends that have Parkinson’s who I do the LSVT exercises and boxing with every week.  While we have so much in common as we cope with the disease, it’s so much more than that. No matter how bad the diagnosis, I actually feel lucky to know and love the staff at On With Life as well as my friends that I have met with Parkinson’s disease.  As strange as it sounds, in some ways I feel blessed to have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

-- Patti M.