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Newly Diagnosed                Tim Foley

When I was first asked to write this article I readily agreed. Then I thought, "Tim, you could probably write a book if you wrote down every detail of recently being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease."  I decided to focus on my emotions during the time period of testing and post diagnosis.

During the summer of 1999 I was admitted to the hospital for chest pains. Before being admitted my wife mentioned to my general practitioner that my essential tremors had taken a turn for the worse. He suggested after I get out of the hospital I should see a neurologist . Well 6 months later with complaints of weakness, clumsiness, and terrible tremors, I finally went to a neurologist who after an MRI diagnosed me with mild cerebellar ataxia. My wife, the nurse, was not happy with that diagnosis so she made an appointment with my current neurologist. After many vials of blood, several CAT scans, an EMG, and finally a trial run of SinemetR, I was diagnosed on February 10, 2000.

My wife and I had worried about the worst as they ruled out disease by disease. She made a good point when she said, "At least you won't die in a few years." That wasn't comforting at the time. I was angry and sad. Why should I get this "old person's disease"?  Everyone that came in to my pharmacy with Parkinson's was 60 years or older. The tremors, ataxia, and bradykinesia associated with the disease were not only interfering with my day to day activities but they stopped repairs on the "fixer upper" of a home we bought in January.

Depression and anxiety took control of my life when the Parkinson's didn't. My neurologist added Zoloft to my regimen of amantadine and selegiline. I attended our meeting in Waterbury while on this medication. I had gone from unilateral symptoms to bilateral symptoms. I was quiet and withdrawn. The Parkinson's was worsening. Our next trip to the neurologist ended up with him taking me off Zoloft and I returned to my unilateral symptoms.

At the same time something popped into my head - "Why was I going to let this disease run my life? Why couldn't I just take advantage of the good days and shrug off the bad days?" My whole family was understanding of my sudden nap attacks and the fact that sometimes I just was quiet because I didn't feel well, My wife Siobhan was supportive all the way looking up research on the Internet and contacting support groups.

Another turning point was the death of my mother. She was diagnosed with cancer and died 18 days later. One month earlier she was golfing in Florida with my father. She would have wanted me to be strong for my family's sake and I would make sure I was.

I decided to grab what I could while I can. I took a job promotion that proved to be more stressful than anticipated. When I can't sleep at night I "surf the net". My twelve-hour days as pharmacy manager take their toll on me so I relax on my days off and enjoy my children. I even recently helped my brother-in-law put an addition on our house. My wife kept asking if I was OK -I was having fun even if I did have to take a few breaks.

I have come to accept my Parkinson's Disease thanks to my wife's words of wisdom. Things could be worse - my children or wife could be sick or I could have a fatal disease. I have much to be thankful for - especially my friends and mostly my wife and children. Parkinson's is now just a roadblock in my life. Something that gets in the way but it will never take away my life with those I love.

to Donna Diaz and Gladys Tiedeman of the APDA here in Connecticut for their continual help and
support of our efforts to bring this group, CPWG, together. It is safe to say that we could not have
done it without them.