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An Open Letter to My Family & Friends

Friday October 10, 2014

Writing A LetterI've been thinking about how to compose this letter since I was diagnosed with early stage Parkinson's a few months ago. I just didn't know how to proceed, if at all. I thought about not telling anyone for a long time, as my manifestations of the disease are so minute. But it is very hard to keep something like this locked up inside. I have been with some of you and just didn't want to put a damper on a fun evening or lunch by bringing it up.  And sometimes I just wasn't ready.  So here we are.... I'd like to set the record straight so I won't have to retell the story over and over. I'm still the same Gloria (for better or worse) and I happen to have a condition called Parkinson's Disease.

Put simply, Parkinson's is defined as a progressive, degenerative nerve disorder caused by a loss of dopamine, a chemical that allows brain cells to function.  We are all losing dopamine and replenishing it. Parkinson's patients just don't replenish as fast.  This leads to all sorts of problems with body movements.

There is at present no cure, and medication just lessens the symptoms. Exercise has been proven to diminish the affects and perhaps slow the pace of the disease.

My first symptom was an occasional tremor in my right hand.  It has not gotten worse, I think due to the fact that I am exercising much more. Only time will tell.  I also lost my sense of smell which is  seen in Parkinson's patients and have some fatigue and very mild rigidity on my right side (stiffness).  My golf drives got shorter (and they weren't so long to begin with).

A big issue is that everyone progresses differently and at a different rate. So the future is so uncertain.

My hope is that I have many years without much change.  I am just completing a month-long daily exercise regimen at Eisenhower Medical Center designed for Parkinson's patients.  There are great drugs now and lots of research.  So most of the time I am quite optimistic. Jim is great, of course.  My kids and grand kids are terrific.  We plan to spend a lot of quality time doing all the things we shouldn't wait to do. And, I plan to be proactive, a fighter and a doer.

I know you all wish me well. Let's all spend quality time.

Gloria

BTW, if you ask me how I'm doing and I say fine, don't read too much into it.  I mean it, I'm doing fine.

Gloria Gottesman
Person with Parkinson's

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