From Autism to Parkinson's
Diagnosed at 41
On August 18, 2000, my life would be forever changed but for the better. I just didn’t realize it at the time. My youngest child Sam was born into respiratory distress and placed in a neonatal ICU for 2 weeks. As I gazed in marvel at this beautiful child, I realized that my life would never be the same but to what extent or how, I didn’t know.
As Sam suffered with sickness the first two years and, after consultations, with many doctors with different specialties, we received a diagnosis of Autism for Sam. We’ve worked hard. Sam has had the right doctors, the right therapies, and the right school. He is now on a path to college and a full normal life. He recently shared his testimony in front of 1000 people at our church!
During the time of Sam’s baptism, little did I know that my own life would radically change once more. Several years prior to this, I suffered from extreme fatigue, muscle cramps, and anxiety. A month before Sam’s baptism in November of 2012, I noticed a muscle twitch in my right thumb, and then it stopped. Then I felt as if I was developing arthritis, but all blood work came back normal for this. As tremors developed in my right hand, and I started losing my balance, I knew something was terribly wrong. Tremors were constant at that point when I wasn’t doing activities that required activity with those limbs. Doctors such as rheumatologists and neurologists couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I was screened for Multiple Sclerosis, had many other blood tests done, was misdiagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and was also hospitalized twice. Walking assistance with either a walker or a cane was necessary since the early part of November due to the fear of falling and severe pain.
In December, I developed more unusual symptoms such as involuntary limb movements and extreme slowness in daily activities. I was currently reading a book on fibromyalgia since I had the diagnosis of it at that time. As I opened the book, my eyes went directly to a misdiagnosis scenario about a woman that had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia but really had Parkinson’s because tremors were not a symptom of fibromyalgia. I then researched Parkinson’s and then highly suspected had it. I typed up a detailed list of symptoms and shared them with a friend in our Sunday school class that has Parkinson’s. He suspected Parkinson’s as well.
After this, I immediately saw a brilliant neurologist in Houston, and he also suspected Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease after the physical examination, but he suggested a trial of L-Dopa to help confirm the diagnosis. The night before I tried the first dose in January, I couldn’t walk down the street to our community mailbox without a walker. After the first two doses, I finally could walk without assistance and all shaking stopped for the first time in three months. I knew without a doubt that I had Parkinson’s Disease at that point. A few days later, the neurologist in Houston confirmed a diagnosis of Parkinson’s and so did a local neurologist soon after that. I’m now feeling close to how I did before due to my medications, but I know I need to exercise, eat properly, take my medication, and attend support groups. It's just the beginning of a new road in life.
I believe that trials in life are intended to be used for good. I’ve witnessed this truth time and time again through Sam’s upbringing. I believe this will happen through my Parkinson ’s disease as well.