Accepting and Embracing Challenges

Diagnosed at 23

Today, October 10, 2013. I decided to finally accept my challenges and embrace them.

My name is Leah. I live in the Dallas, TX area. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in August 2011. As we all know, the diagnoses process for YOPD is a bit lengthy. It took 2 years, every neurological test I could imagine, and 3 neurologists. Here is a piece of the long road to the diagnosis.

At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. So, you could say I've been on some form of neurological medications since then. I had quite a few seizures, but they finally were controlled with the proper medication and stopped occurring at the age of 15. Of course being a young teenager, the only thing I was upset about was I had to be "seizure free" for 2 years, which meant I could not get my drivers license until the age of 17. If only I knew that was going to be one of my smallest problems when it came to my health, I wouldn't have snuck out my parents car like I did. That never ends well. Anyways, I went on to live a happy and healthy life, finished high school, gave a college a shot. Possibly made a few bad decisions on the way, but I would never take them back.

Every thing started to change around the age of 21. My so called " perfect handwriting " became almost illegible. My classmates and friends would notices my hands shaking here and there, I just thought I was over caffeinated or needed to eat some food with actual nutrition. I've always been a petite female with the appetite of a grown man, but that began to diminish. I LOVED food.  As a kid I always wanted to open a bakery due to my love for warm sweets. It was as if I woke up one day and wanted to break up with my love for food. My weight began to drop and people started to notice. I knew something was wrong, I wasn't myself. At the age of 22, my seizures returned and with vengeance might I add. I  began more neurological exams and finally a neurologist noticed my tremor. There was something more going on, more than just the return of one annoying seizure disorder. So after years of testing, my symptoms continued to get worse. 

Finally in 2012, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I didn't understand. I didn't take it seriously. I was started on the lower end of the medication scale, but am now on the heavy duty stuff due to my symptoms getting worse on a rapid scale. I now take Sinemet, Requip, and Amantadine. The side effects aren't the best, but I've learned to deal. I will not let Parkinson's pave my path; it will just have to tag along on the adventure that will be my life.

The main reason I decided to finally reach out and tell my story, is because of the lack of resources and support in my area for people living and caring for those with Parkinson's Disease. When I was diagnosed, I searched site after site looking for support groups, fundraising events, etc. I was left with little to nothing to work with. So I have lived with my Parkinson's alone, not being able to share or relate to anyone who shares the daily challenges I face. That is going to change. I have decided to take it upon myself to first start a support group in my area, how it will go..I'm not sure. But I won't stop trying. I hope to be able to start a fundraiser of my own. And, by telling my story, I can reach out to others who might have the same struggles as myself. I want to help others face their challenges by sharing what I often find is the comedic side of Parkinson's.

There is nothing funny about being diagnosed with Parkinson's, but to me a good laugh is the best way to overcome your biggest obstacles. So I'm going to venture out and begin a support group in my area. So wish me luck, and I hope to hear from others along the way. I have enjoyed reading many of your personal stories, they have greatly inspired me to take charge of my life. For that I wish everyone the best. I hope to bring more resources to this southern city of mine for those with PD, and just as importantly for the ones who care for those of us with PD.

Thank You !


Leah please read about Gersun therapy. ... let me know what you think. Love you!

Cousin Kim in Sedan. ..., Jan 16, 2014


Leah , you are one brave woman,strong willed and glad you decided to share your story. We have alot in common,and also that we are. Related. Thank you. Leah and God bless you all the way! Your so beautiful just like your Mom.

Merry Rodriguez, Jan 19, 2014


Well written Leah, I am impressed with your attitude. My dear wife Mary was diagnosed with PD some 25 ago (married 50 years) and she is very strong willed.
Mary has never once complained and battled on through the rough patches.
We do not like to refer to Parkinsons as a disease, after all, it isn't contagious is it? Maybe better described as Parkinsons syndrome.
We try to find the funny side of life and at times it is not always easy as you know.
However, it is important to keep smiling.
Laughter is the nectar of the soul.
You are young and strong and have many good years ahead of you, we wish you well for the future and remember, there are many people around the world who are working hard to resolve the many issues surrounding Parkinsons. One day, they will find the answer.

Our love and best wishes,
Ivor & Mary

Ivor Jones, Jan 28, 2014


Thank You Ivor & Mary for sharing your own story with me. I agree with you that Laughter is the nectar of the soul. Im glad to hear others are able to find the comedy in this "disease" as well.

Best to you both,

Leah, Mar 23, 2014

Ivor & Mary,

Thank You for your optimistic advice. I strongly agree with you that Laughter is truly the nectar of the soul. It comforts me to see others embracing the comedic side of this "disease". I admire you Ivor as a caretaker as well, your story has inspired me as well.

Thank You,

leah gagle, Mar 23, 2014

I loved your story! I'm sorry your a member of the young PD club, but we are a very optimistic group. You have to laugh and make the best out of the challenges we face. I live in North Dallas and would love to attend your support group. While there are support groups and excercise classes in our area they are held during the day, when I am at work. Keep me posted and good luck!

Debbie Fourcand, Jan 28, 2014


Dear Debbie,
Thank You for reaching out and reading my story. I find comfort in finding others with YOPD in my area. I am still working on putting together my support group, and have been unable to attend the other one in our area as well. We both know Parkinson's can create a few minor road blocks. Please keep in touch since you are near by.

Stay strong,

leah gagle, Mar 23, 2014

My daughter is 28 and we are still trying to figure out what is going on with her. She has seen a heart doctor, general doctor and neurologist and has had every test done since November 10 this ear and still no answers. Her most recent test was for Lyme disease and we are still waiting for those results. She is on disability and can't work or drive. She is very depressed.

Your symptoms seem similar to hers. She has blackouts, shakiness, loss of memory and poor balance among other things. Temporary vision loss and temporary paralysis upon waking from a blackout.

Who was finally ably to diagnose you? You have a great attitude and positive will.

My Grandmother and her Father both had Parkinson's but in their old age.

Keep strong and best wishes,

Pamela Tuckey, Mar 4, 2014


Dear Pamela,

Im very sorry to hear about your daughters illness. I am currently struggling to get approved for disability, so
I can relate to that as well. I was finally diagnosed by a Movement Disorder Specialist, general neurologist weren't very helpful in my case. Parkinson's also runs in my family as well. I would like to speak with you more, I know how frustrating it can be trying to find in answer. Being that your daughter is young, I'm sure she is a strong women. Stay optimistic and please feel free to contact me via email at or on my blog at

Best regards to you and your family,
Leah Gagle

leah gagle, Mar 23, 2014

Thank you for your story. I was recently diagnosed a couple of weeks ago.
It took two long years. I started meds last week.
I'm 47 with three kids ang going through z divorce.
She was my one and only love. I was always active
And very social person which she loved about me.
When I started losing interest in these things,
She thought I lost interest in our
marriage. I told her I still loved her numerous times.
She always thought I looked miserable and mad.
I was actually releaved when I was diagnosed.
Now I know I'm not crazy. Your story really inspired me.
Take care,

Rick Robbins, Mar 16, 2014


I'm sorry to hear about your tough road with Parkinson's. I know from my own personal experience, unfortunately not everyone will stick by your side through the process. What I do know is that there is hope, and there are wonderful people out there that will understand. Your welcome to contact me at my blog at , I'm attempting to get something going so that all of us with PD are able to share the comedic sides of our daily stress.

Best Wishes,

leah gagle, Mar 24, 2014


THANKS for posting:)I'm sure I will have some questions! I was diagnosed 8 years ago...just went to my FIRST support group meeting 2 months ago. None in my closest city, Lafayette,IN.
How is your group going now? What worked for you???


Roger Jenkins, May 6, 2014


Hi Leah
Thank you for being so courageous and vulnerable in putting your story out there for others to share. I am a naturopàthic doctor, physiotherapist and counsellor. I was also diagnosed with young onset Parkinson's disease at 35. I am now 42. I share this with you because there is much that people don't know about that can dramatically improve symptoms. Problem is that it's individualistic. Every person and every treatment is just different. The key Is learning about the depths of the person, their history their story and then looking for the many whispers of truth that can help heal that person. It is working for me and has others as well....see John Coleman and Robert Rodgers parkinsons road to recovery to start.
I would love the opportunity to work with you...I have been looking for support groups for some time email is my clinics website is .

Dr. Chris Mazzuchin, May 20, 2014


thank you for sharing your story with us. Be strong and be healthy! Exercise is your best friend. I have found out that dancing and boxing are a good combo on our battle for Parkinson. I watched Dancing With The Stars last season, and Amy Pruden was a huge inspiration! I relief my anger and stress with the boxing and find coordination in dancing. Ask your doctor about "Azilect" to stop progression of the Parkinson's, you should be taking this medication!I also found that wearing high heals can keep your balance better.

Alex, Jun 4, 2014


I am trying to find friends, ANYONE who has PD and is the same age me, or somewhere close to me (which is 25 on august 12, 2014)

I am bothering people on this site for companionship because I am honestly scared...

andrew whittaker, Aug 12, 2014


Hi Andrew, you can contact me via email at if you'd like.

leah gagle, Aug 20, 2014

Hi Leah,

I run an integrative center in Fargo, ND called HeartSprings and we work a lot with PD. You may want to look at Dr. Terry Wahls new book called Wahls Way. Even though she was diagnosed with MS, it's all brain stuff (and they are using this type of diet with PD) and its a way to help you feel in control of your disease! Best of luck Jan

Jan Nelson, Aug 31, 2014


Hello! Thank you for your courage and motivation! I was diagnosed with YOPD 11 yrs ago. I live in Austin, Texas. Please let me know if you are ever in the area; would love to meet you! (ps I am a 44y/o pediatrician and had a rapid progression of dystonias in the beginning that plateaued...)


Mary, Dec 4, 2014


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