To make a donation to the National Parkinson’s Foundation on behalf of my dad, please visit this page.
On my 36th birthday, we received confirmation on what I think we all already knew. My dad, Robin (hereto forth referred to as Pops), has Parkinson’s Disease.
We all had been making jokes about it for years. His wife, Michelle, always joked about his “Parkinson’s finger”, his pointer finger that always seemed to have a mind of its own, twitching and pointing away. And let me assure you, this was a joke we all laughed at. We like to laugh.
For several years before his diagnosis, Pops had started to slow down. This tall, strong, boisterous (in the best possible way), all-present being was now slow, stumbled with his words, and was aching after being on his feet for any amount of time. We thought it was the café, which he owned at the time, running him into the ground. Whatever it was, we all began to worry…
Pops retired in the Spring of 2012. We thought for sure that we would get the old, funny, loud, energetic Pops back with the weight of this business off his shoulders.
I live in Boston, 1200 miles away from my family who are all in Florida. So when my sister told me she and others were worried about Pops, I felt completely helpless, unable to assess the situation from this far away. Apparently people thought he may have had a mini stroke. His speech was slurred, and he always walked as if he was about to topple over. A 6’2″ 240 lb. man is not someone you want to see topple over.
Finally Pops went to the doctors to have everything checked out. Because there is no actual test to diagnose Parkinson’s, the doctor basically observed all of the things family and friends had been observing for a couple of years now. His limbs were stiff, he had trouble getting up and down, and he did NOT walk normally. All of the signs we had all seen, recognized, and dealt with by humor now had a name.
I was the first person my dad told after his wife. Although we had all, in the back of our minds, known what the diagnosis would be, hearing the words was much tougher than I ever thought it would be. I’m not going to lie, I cried on and off for a couple of months after hearing the news, I was kind of a mess.
Pops, however, did not take the same approach I was taking. Immediately he contacted Humana to find out what WAS known and what he could do. He immediately joined Silver Sneakers classes at the gym 3 days a week and started going on walks lead by Patty, his Silver Sneakers “guru”, the other 2 days of the week. He started walking the dogs for miles a day. Exercise is the only “for sure” you get with Parkinson’s…well that, and your sense of humor!
As I write this, it has been about 6 months since my dad’s diagnosis. With his daily exercise, eating healthier, finding the right medications and dosages, and some natural remedies, he is doing really, really well. We still laugh constantly, he is on the move, and his speech is about as normal as it ever was. He is my Pops again. But the fight isn’t over.
I am setting up this donation page because of the unknown. We don’t know when the medication will stop working. We don’t know if the disease will spread fast, slow, or not at all. We don’t know much about this disease at all. And you know what they say, knowledge is power. So please make a donation in honor of my Pops to help us find out more about Parkinson’s and to help us give everyone battling with this “unknown” some power.
You can’t? Great! Then click on this link to make a donation to the National Parkinson’s Foundation in honor of my Pops. Every penny helps, so even if you can only donate $10, it is greatly appreciated!
All my best~
– Renee Hirschberg