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A Well-Tested Testimonial, or Spin for Parkinson's

Friday February 05, 2016

We all have stories. For those of us affected by Parkinson’s disease, the “beginnings” are especially poignant.

Of course, the “middles” and “ends” are significant, too! But that first loss, and gain are determined. Indeed, those first sticky words (either the doctor’s or your own) hang onto the sides of memory a bit longer than the rest.

We don’t put up with their clinginess for nothing: their beginning-ness incites more beginnings. Memory can open through countless forms of expression; sharing, into humor and hope.

That’s why the middles and the ends are so important.

They get to tell the jokes!

It all began with a left-hand tremor, and a delay in my banter reflex.

After six months of testing at the Everett clinic—to the perplexity of my doctors—a diagnosis emerged from the dark side of the waiting room. Of the three neurologists, two were middle-aged and one was just younger than my 38-year-old self, and fresh from his residency. This newbie was the first to think the implausible.

“You have Parkinson’s.”

I received his blunt words with an equally flat stare. A few moments of silence passed, and he added, “It’s not gonna kill you.”

I knew what it was—well, I knew what I thought of Parkinson’s disease, because I had been following Michael J. Fox’s story.

Of course, no two stories are the same. Especially when the plot twists around a neurological disorder.

Brian Mukilteo

Seven years later, I had the first of what would amount to be six deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgeries. My most recent—and hopefully final—operation took place this past October, 2015. Many things marked this particular surgery as unique from the others, one of which is that I had been cycling for the previous eight months. 

Stationery bicycles, or spin, are more than just a fad: they’re hailed as incredibly effective exercise for people with Parkinson’s. The University of Washington can attest to that fact!

My spin class has moved beyond just a physical outlet. A very strong support group, the YMCA Parkinson’s spin class provided me significant assurance through my sixth DBS procedure. 

Mill Creek and Everett offer incredible community environments. The staff is outstanding. Gael, my instructor, is versed in making a difference on a daily basis.

Thanks to friendship and family within and without the Y, I continue to cycle with Parkinson’s disease each week. I am able to maintain all that I’ve gained from my DBS surgeries, from a far smoother shuffle to a hazardously sharpened tongue.

The young doctor was right. I have Parkinson’s; up against all of these resources, against my major and minute vitality, it’s not gonna kill me. 

            - Brian Camp

Bette Jane Camp
NWPF Blogger

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