Stories

Matty Bennett

There is a light at the end of a very dark tunnel

Diagnosed at 31

My name is Matty and I am from Southern California, actually Santa Barbara to be exact. I grew up skating, surfing, and guitar won me over as I started to become involved in the gigging scene. I started playing small shows, and then they grew as our band got bigger. The name of the band is not important, what is though is that it was in the genre of Punk Rock, and I was living in Los Angeles at the time. Unfortunately, I became somewhat of an addict due to the lifestyle I was living. This was roughly in the year of 2000. My band finally broke up in 2003 and I got sober for good.

Jumping ahead to 2005, I started having numbness, and tingling, and aching in my right foot,  calf, and shins. Being just 31 years old I was scared of the symptoms, and I moved back to Santa Barbara to be close to my family. I got my own apartment, and little things starting happening to me along with the calf. I started having trouble sleeping and swallowing. This brought me to one of the best neurologists on the South Coast, and he ordered an MRI immediately. With no results, he said he wanted to see me in six weeks and keep a close eye on it.

I went to the public library, and the next day - being more aware - my left arm began to shake in rythmic pattern as I laid it on the desk. Still, I did not mention it to anyone, but as a week went on, my head started to bob a bit. Now I could not hide it from anyone and back to the neurologist we went. This time he tested my gait, noticed I had no swinging of my left arm, and then I saw worry hit his face. He tested for all reflex tests, and spotted cogwheel rigidity. That day he decided to start me on Sinemet 25/100 3x a day.

I wish I could say the last 7 years have been wonderful but they have not. I've met with alot of people who were skeptical. I had to  keep plugging along, knowing that what I had is young onset Parkinson's disease, and that I could do nothing about it. In my weakest moments I contemplated suicide, in my best moments, I wrote it off as "some people are just not as healthy as others."

It was not just hiding my left hand, I had trouble finishing sentences, my vocabulary really diminished, or it was there, but I could never think of it fast enough. Oh, to backtrack, yes the Sinemet did work and we had a positive diagnosis. On a good note, the shaking of my head went away, and the left arm and hand seemed to have had mellowed enough to hide to this day. But it is with ME each and every moment, of each and every day.

For some reason, I have turned my attitude around. I have now accepted my disease seven years later. I am now playing guitar full time again, because God blessed me by putting the tremors in my left hand, and since PD is a resting tremor, I was able to play guitar almost to the best of my ability again.

I have played gigs since and my life has almost returned to normal. But I still suffer from occasional depression, and the rhetorical question of what my life could have been. And the answer always comes back to I have all I could ever want. I have my family, my fiancee and son, and all the support from all the right people. It is not by accident or coincidence, that I found this page today. In closing, of course I left out a lot. Like a lot of pain and everyday issues. But for the most part there is a light at the end of what was a very dark tunnel for me.

3 Comments

Know your not alone Matty. Your an encouragement to me.

Eric, Nov 17, 2012

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Thank You Eric. I am so blessed to be a part of this community, and, if my story touched you, then I am a success. We measure life with happiness as a result of a lot of little successes, and this has become my NEW "way of life."

Matty, Apr 15, 2013

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I was diagnosed 10 years ago at 31 and my symptoms followed the path of onset. I know what you mean when you talk about the lower points in dealing with surviving Parkinson's. I just under went DBS surgery. Go next week Sept 09, 2013 to get it activated.

Lawrence Manuel, Sep 3, 2013

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