Stories

Jennifer's Story

Five Good Years Left?

Diagnosed at 40

My name is Jennifer, I am 45 years old, and I have Parkinson's disease.

About seven years ago, I noticed my left hand had lost some of its dexterity and my arm didn't swing when I walked. My primary care doctor sent me to see a neurologist. My diagnosis was a benign Essential Tremor. 

As time passed, my symptoms continued to worsen. I developed a frozen shoulder, had it manipulated, went to lots of physical therapy, and when I was fully recovered, my arm still didn't swing. The orthopedic doctor's response when questioned was, "It is not from anything I did." Not exactly helpful, so I went to a different neurologist, who finally diagnosed me with Parkinson's Disease. His exact words were, "Well, you have five good years left." I was 40 years old, my boys were 9 and 11 - and I had 5 good years left? 

I was so devastated, I fell into a fog of sadness and depression that lasted about one year. I constantly watched the clock tick away the few good years I had left. I developed coping mechanisms, such as only thinking 10 minutes ahead. Anything longer than that was too overwhelming. I had never been artistic before, but all of the sudden I could draw and paint. The doctor said it was the medicine, but I think it was a gift from God, because when I was painting, I wasn't thinking about Parkinson's. That, along with the support of my husband and friends, carried me through that first year. 

Now, I'm happy most of the time, although I do still have pity parties every now and then. I was a teacher before having children, so I tried teaching preschool, but it was too taxing. I wrote and illustrated a children's book for a missionary friend who adopted a baby with a rare illness. We sold 900 books and donated the proceeds to the family to help pay medical bills. It was such a blessing to me to be able to forget about my own troubles and use my talents to help someone else. Would I trade my artistic talents for my former healthy body? Absolutely! But I am grateful for the gift and the ability to share it with others. It has been almost five years since that doctor made his prediction, and I can say without a doubt that he was wrong. With the help of family, friends and faith my future looks fairly bright. At least the next ten minutes are going to be great!

9 Comments

You are a blessing.

scott, Oct 12, 2012

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You ARE a blessing!

Amy, Oct 20, 2012

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You are a BLESSING.

Mike, Oct 29, 2012

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YOU really are a blessing to me and many others.

Laura, Jan 8, 2013

You are a beautiful person....inside and out!!!

emily, Nov 22, 2012

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Jennifer, you are a true inspiration! Always remember the power of god and positive thoughts! Both are very powerful and can make things happen we never imagined possible.

kevin Newsome, Nov 28, 2012

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Jennifer, our stories are very similar. I was 39 when the same symptoms as yours began and I am 46 now. My children are 15 and 17. I am inspired by your new found talent and your book project! What a wonderful idea! I have a great desire to draw and paint, but haven't done a lot. I was in an Art Therapy group for PD in Italy though ( I am a missionary). I'd be interested to know how your symptoms are now and what treatment works for you.

Laura Van Dolsen, Dec 15, 2012

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THAT IS A WONDERFUL STORY. YOU TRULY ARE A BLESSING. I CAN'T EMPHASIS HOW IMPORTANT THE RIGHT DOCTOR IS. I'VE HAD SOME DINGERS WHO JUST LOOK AT YOU AS IF YOUR CREDIT SCORE IS MORE IMPORTANT. FOR ALL OF THOSE WRITERS, ARTISTS, SONGWRITERS, THERE ARE PLENTY OF SELF-PUBLISHING COMPANIES THAT WOULD LOVE FOR YOU TO PUBLISH YOUR WORKS. ONE OF THE PARKINSONS DISEASE ORGANIZATIONS CAME OUT WITH A CALENDER IN 2008, YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHS...

JAMES SHOWERS JR, Apr 4, 2013

You ARE a real blessing!!!!

Rob johnson, Jan 20, 2013

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