Press Room

My PD Story

Presented by the National Parkinson's Foundation

from April 2016

Over the last 18 years, I have suffered from tremors and balance issues. Once I was even told by a superior that I shouldn’t come to school after drinking. “Walking drunk among the students isn’t appropriate,” I was told. When I sought medical opinions to find out what was wrong with me, doctors told me that it was all in my head. Duh!

Just one year before my diagnosis at 52, my wife, then girlfriend, experienced issues similar to Parkinson’s. Doctors told her it was because of a mass on her brain. I was living in Indiana, she in Minnesota. I had to rely on my faith to get us through this crisis.

I traveled to be with her at her three-month check-up. I was planning to become her husband and caregiver. Following X-rays and other tests, her doctor said the mass in her brain had disappeared and he couldn’t explain why. I said it was divine intervention. “God does everything for a reason,” I said. Not knowing that the same doctor would ultimately give us the news that I had Parkinson’s disease (PD).

I have always lived an active life, however, now I am living a blessed life. I’m now 55 and serve on a school board and participate on the Moving Day® Twin Cities planning committee. I still teach. I exercise daily, either at the health club or at Uppercut Gym doing Rock Steady Boxing, but my favorite form of exercise is taking walks.

Parkinson's might have slowed my walking pace, but it opened my eyes to see. On a recent vacation, we went on a hike. During one of my many stops to catch my breath, I convinced my wife to stand in front of me. I slowly moved her towards what I had been seeing. Only in pictures do you see forest floors carpeted in green moss and decaying timbers that lay down as if to sleep. Here, it wasn’t a photo. We were enjoying nature's slideshow.

Through my guidance, my wife could understand how my life has changed. If only for a brief moment, my wife saw what I saw and felt this gift I have been given. Some may question how I see having Parkinson's as a gift from God, but every day I know he has blessed me because he uses me to inspire and share his many wonders. I enjoy taking nature photography and I write a blog called Silver Linings to help me document the amazing things I now get to take in.

Every day, life hands you lemons and your normal response is to make lemonade. I would like you to take this a step further and remember the acronym SMILE: See Majesty in Life Daily. See the good in others, see the greatness that lies in front of us and see the blessings that have been bestowed upon all of us.