Stories

Tim's Story

Not Hiding Anymore

Diagnosed at 34

My name is Tim and I am from Manteno, Illinois. I am a 34 year old husband, father of 2, career firefighter/paramedic, and coach. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2012. This was shocking to me because "this is an older persons disease" so I thought. I never really realized how many younger people actually suffered for this.

For about a year and a half I had tremors in my arms, hand cramping, slower movements with my right side, and stiffness in my joints. I hid the symptoms from my wife and children as long as I could. I thought these symptoms were a result of nerve damage which I had suffered from injuries to my head. I had brain and neck surgery in 1999. Prior to the surgery I was a wrestler, boxer, and was going to college on a football scholarship studying sports medicine. The neuro-surgeon who did my surgery said that there would be some damage but there was no way to tell how much.

Once the tremors became bad enough that my children began asking me whats wrong with my hands and arm, I knew it was time to tell my wife and children what I had been hiding from them. I had scheduled an appointment with my family doctor and she believed that these were just accidental tremors. I knew what they were and I didn't agree with her. I saw a neurologist about a week later and he ordered blood work, MRI, and put me through a motor function test. Prior to getting the test results back the doctor gave me samples of a medication used to treat Parkinson's. He said he cannot diagnose anything until the results come back, but he believed that I would benefit from starting this med.

Within 7 days of taking the medicine my tremors were almost gone and my hands seem to be functioning like they should. It was remarkable how well I felt. About 4 weeks later I met with the neurologist again to review all of the test results. He said everything looked good. He also put me through another motor function test and increased the dose of medicine. He said that I looked like a different person, even though the tremors were still present a little in the right arm and hand. My wife asked the doctor what is causing the problems. He said with out a doubt it was Parkinson's. After the shock and tears from my wife passed, the doctor explained it very thoroughly. The hardest part for me about the diagnosis wasn't actually having Parkinson's, it was seeing my wife in children and how angry they were with God because of it. I spent many hours explaining to them that everything was okay. All they could say is "why you?" "its not fair", and my reply was "why not me." Everything happens for a reason and someone obviously believes that we can handle this.

Months have pasted and many doctors appointments later, our family has actually become closer now than we ever were. I still have a bad day now and then but nothing has prevented me from living each day to the fullest. I have found strength in our friends and family, and the athletes that I still coach everyday.

2 Comments

I too am a firefighter in Ohio and was diagnosed in 2009 but symptoms began around 2007. I was a wrestler in college and I can only say hang in there. Educating the fire service is difficult at best when it comes to this! Family is everything, I would be nuts without the love of my wife and kids. The doctor's aren't always the best with YOPD we don't seem to "fit" into the box. Hang in there!

Kirk, Mar 27, 2013

reply

I would love to know how you job has been treating you since your diagnosis. It has been a constant challenge for us. It's funny how many people look at you differently. I too have educated many on YOPD throughout our department and many from neighboring communities. It's amazing how many firefighters actually battle this disease. It sounds like our families have a lot in common, right down to the spouses and amazing children. My son wears the Parkinson's symbol on his headgear, and he has actually educated many young athletes about what I go through day to day. God bless

Tim, Jan 3, 2014

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