Why My First Year with Parkinson’s Was My Best Year Ever


New Year’s Day 2011 marked the end of the first calendar year after my diagnosis with Parkinson's disease in September 2009. I've concluded, surprisingly, that that year was probably my best ever.

Reading this, you might well wonder: If your first year with a PD diagnosis was your best, were your earlier years that miserable?

On the contrary, I've had a pretty good life. Professionally, within a month of leaving Cornell in 1955, I landed an editorial job at BNA, an employee-owned legal publisher in Washington, DC, where I enjoyed a 40-year career in labor relations and employment law, rising to become a board member and vice president of HR by the time I retired.

Personally, my life changed for the better once I got sober and came out in 1978. My kids make me grateful for the years I tried to hide in a marriage, and to this day, I have yet to find anyone with whom I'm as compatible as I was with my now-deceased wife.

When I got sober and became honest about my innate nature, I quickly acquired a community and support network of others who were going through the same struggles. My life since then has been full of fun, friends, and rewards. Those first exhilarating years of being sober and out are close runner-ups for the "Best Year" award.

But 2010 still wins the gold medal for the following reasons:

  1. PD has given me a new focus, challenge, and cause.
  2. Knowing what I'm dealing with and using the PD meds and exercises has restored my spirits, energy, and drive.
  3. 5-HTP has alleviated my depression, insomnia, and constipation, greatly enhancing the quality of my life. It also has had some interesting side effects.
  4. Working on this blog definitely adds to the quality of my life—I love doing this!
  5. My PD support group and online support networks give me a community in which to share my experiences, strengths, hopes and laughs.
  6. I've returned to meditation and find it to be more helpful than ever, particularly when combined with 5-HTP.
  7. Exercise has been a BIG factor in making 2010 my best year ever.
  8. My days are more filled than ever with activities that keep me interested and involved.
  9. Last and definitely not least, my already strong support network of family and friends got even stronger in 2010.

No problems? Of course 2010 was not problem-free. Life always is a hassle.

One of my best friends lost his 15-year struggle with cancer. Several friends were hard-hit by the recession, while others are struggling with health problems and the lack of affordable insurance. My libido seems to be sinking and almost disappearing (which might be a blessing given my past history).

Enough about me. How about you? I’d love to hear from you about how you’ve been dealing with any of these issues.

Washington, DC, resident John Schappi blogs about aging, exercise, diet, pills, supplements, and his life with Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer. Once upon a time, he was addicted to nicotine, alcohol and sex. These days, his passions include gardening, playing bridge, meditating, going to the theater and traveling.

Visit: Aging, Parkinson’s, and Me

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2013 ummm. Started my sixth year caretaking for my dad with Parkinsons and working good job after lay off and retraining in 2001. Came to June and life changed. ...laid off again but still thought things would be ok thinking that this was mean to be to spend more time with dad and would find employment. Boy was I wrong. No job, only 26 wks of unemployment because legislators could not care less about the newly unemployed while others had assistance for 3 years. Dad has learned to depend on me more and more that I am home thus limiting how many hours I can work. Cobra too expensive to afford but the good thing after days and days I got on ACA with
no pre existing but paying full price because ACA works off your prev tax year and can not see that I have no income without a 6 mo appeal. So 2013 was much worse than good but my mom before her passing said she did everything for her mom while she was alive, so taking that advice and trying to enjoy the time I have left with dad and pray things work out for me. Thanks for the question. This made me see some good things I still have.
Good for you! Not easy to "accentuate the positive" with all you're dealing with. But it's better than sinking into depression and inertia.