Diagnosed with PD in 1998, probably inflicted with it for a couple years before that, I decided to make the most of the poker hand I had been dealt. Put on Mirapex early on, I soon became a compulsive gambler and after that became, divorced, fired, lost all my property but literally the clothes I was wearing or could carry. I was homeless for more than five years and a bout with suicidal ideations landed my in a Veteran's Hospital. One of the great physicians at the facility quickly realized my plight was more a result of bad medicine rather than the disease. Once I got off the Mirapex, I actually started to thrive.
I went through a Gambler's Addiction inpatient rehabilitation program, again courtesy of the VA. I met a lady and moved in with her, found a neurologist who was a magician at modifying my medication dosages. I was able to go back to work in West Africa for several years. When my PD symptoms again stopped me from being able to work, I got my own place in a small rural community. For four years, for spiritual growth reasons, not unhealthy feeling-sorry-for-myself ones, I lived the life of a hermit. I meditated five times a day and studied nature and metaphysical subjects almost every day. I also became a bird watcher and spent about 5 to 8 hours a day at the state park five minutes from my home.
In 2004, I had been diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease and was strongly urged and coerced to have a five vessel coronary-artery-bypass-graft which I decided to refuse after receiving a second opinion from a noninvasive cardiologist. Subsequently, from 2004 to 2012, I was treated with medication for my CAD. In June of this year, I finally experienced a fairly major heart attack. Three days later, I underwent that CABG, only four vessels though. The recovery went extremely well
When I decided to end my four years of solitude, I decided to start dating again. So I trimmed the beard that grew down to below my nipple line in four years and had my head shaved. The only thing I missed about that was I lost the long pony tail that took me years to grow. But shortly after communicating with members of the opposite sex, I met the love of my life, Lori. We met in March and were wed August 31, 2011. Each of us say it was the best thing we ever did.
Lori and I are now travelling across the country, stopping along the way to see places we've never been to before, taking time not only to smell the roses but to watch them grow, bud and bloom. We will be doing this as long as my body allows us to. Right now we are in southern New Mexico and may be here several months, or leave next month. We go wherever the weather takes us.
Why am I writing this? I am letting you have just a small glimpse of what my life has been to let you know I would not change a thing that has happened to me before or after I was diagnosed with PD. Sure, I've been homeless, cold wet and hungry at times, lonely and yes, sometimes scared. But all of these experiences, deprivations, and traumatic situations have all served to make me stronger and better capable to react to whatever grief (I like to call it 'whatever challenge') comes my way.
My body has frequently not allowed me to do everything I wanted to do. But that has only served to teach me to do things I never thought I would every do. My heart has caused me pain, both physical and emotional, and it has almost killed me. But what doesn't kill me only makes me stronger.
Stay strong fellow Parkies. There is a big world out there to explore.
BTW, the beautiful young woman whose image accompanies this essay is my wife, Lori.