I often wonder what my life would be like if I had not been diagnosed with this dreaded disease called PD. When my doctor told me, my Mother was with me and we both cried. I said why me and the doctor said why not you? So from that day forward I made a vow that I would do all I could do to find out what God had in store for me. Well I believe I have found that. I have some wonderful friends in my life that I would have never met if I didn't suffer from PD. I have been to the YOPN conferences all over the US and I feel I have accomplished something wherever I have been. I have made an impression of some kind that is a positive thing for Parkinson. Even if it was to comfort someone in their time of need or they just needed a friend to listen. I have been there for them. I have assisted them to their room when they were not feeling well, and their meds would not "kick in" fast enough; or maybe they were feeling weak and depressed. It has been very rewarding to me, and what a blessing it is to be well enough to travel to these events. It has not been easy but I have endured the pain. I will continue my march throughout my life, and I will continue the fight for a cure until the last breath leaves my body. I am deeply dedicated to finding the cause and cure of Parkinson's Disease! I think we all should make this a vow; and I know some of you have already done so more than once.
I believe it is well worth our time to attend these events and receive information on the new discoveries of medications that help our dreadful symptoms and the surgeries that are available for us to consider. We need to share this with our family and acquaintances. We need to shout it from the roof tops or talk to people whenever you have the opportunity and educate them about PD. If you are on a plane, talk to the person sitting next to you. Most of the time they are willing and very much interested in what you have to say. Whenever you have the opportunity, make someone aware of what PD is all about. Awareness is of the utmost importance.
My first YOPN conference was in Atlanta, GA. I traveled to GA with my dear friends Linda and Derrick Weaver. She is a young onset patient that lives only an hour away from me in Alabama. She and I have very similar symptoms, and we have a wonderful friendship. We are compatible as friends, and we respect each others feelings. We get along like Mother and daughter. You see, she is young to have this disease if there is any right age. Who knows? I know it can be miserable at any age. She is about 39 and has had symptoms since her teens. It took a very long time for her to get a diagnosis, but she finally got the verdict. It was a life sentence of PD. But she has not let it stop her because she organized a support group for patients who are not mobile--she goes to them. She honored me not too long ago at a PD fundraiser that she organized -- she says I have been an inspiration to her and so many people who have PD. Now that makes me feel it is a worthwhile thing I am doing. Without PD I would have never even met her. I think most everyone knows my dear friend Kaylee Jenkins who has done so much for PD awareness. I remember meeting her in Atlanta. She was wearing a beautiful black dress looking so lovely, and her husband Marty was so handsome in his western attire and cowboy hat. She calls me her Bama Butterfly Buddy. My husband Dan and I attend her event Parkinson's In The Park every year and she has been to Alabama to help with my event Guns Afire for PD Clays for A Cure which is coming up soon -- October 4th in Ft. Payne, AL. We collect money for PD research to help find a cure.
Then there was YOPN Minnesota where I saw my friend Tutti Fruiti (Caroline from England) and her hubby Jim. They are an awesome couple. They acted like family and are so pleasant to be around-- always smiling and friendly. She and I are poets so we enjoyed sharing our poetry. She writes more romantic, lovely poems than I do. Mine are simple and more "down to earth" writings--some are intense. I also met Cris (Cinemaripper from Chicago) at this event. We had chatted in the chat room numerous times. My good friend Gary Boyd (gbirdboy) from Houston was there, too. He, Cris and I went on a trek to the Mall of America and that was a riot with those two clowning around the entire time. My fellow Senior
Advisor Jackie Christiansen was the conference coordinator, and it was an excellent event. I also spent some time talking to Ron Crawford from Texas. We sang kareoke one night and that was so much fun.
YOPN Phoenix was where I was dancing with David the U-Step Walker salesman, and I fell on the dance floor. I just sat there looking so bewildered and laughing about it. He said how could I let you fall and looked so shocked. It was a great conference. I saw a lot of my PD friends. Mike O' Leary was there in full force since he was the conference coordinator and Linda who now is his wife was there helping with the program. My friend Paula Tomlin was there with her sweet smile and wonderful attitude. Wendy Schindler and her husband came to this conference and I had a chance to meet her in person. We had chatted quite a while on line before we finally met.
Then I went to YOPN Reston, VA what a great time we had. I believe the weather was cold but our hearts were warmed by the camaraderie we experienced. I was not feeling up to par then. That was right before my DBS surgery was scheduled. I set the date so it would not interfere with my attending this conference. This is where I met Sherry from Louisiana who I chatted with a few months before. I met Steve from Louisiana who was scheduled for DBS surgery right after I had mine--he was referred to me to discuss DBS surgery in Alabama since he was traveling there for the surgery. The Katrina hurricane was so destructive that they were not performing the surgery at that time in New Orleans. My special friends Angela and Karl Robb were also there. They were the conference coordinators and did an awesome job. I think they are a wonderful couple, and I always look forward to seeing them.
We must not forget YOPN Chicago and Mark Rubin the excellent conference coordinator. I was honored to make his acquaintance. I know I will never forget Chicago since I lost my cell phone there, and all my numbers I had accumulated through the years were gone. So if you haven't received a call from me lately, that is the reason why. Call me so I can save your number to my new phone. I also met some new PDers -- I am anxious to see if they will come to Atlanta this year since they seem to thoroughly enjoy the Chicago conference. I met Lonnie Ali at this conference--she is a great lady. I have a photo of us together. This is where I stayed up all night since I had a 6:00 A.M. return flight the next day. I remember I was afraid I would not awaken in time to catch my flight. My friends Gretchen and Michael Church were at this conference. I am looking forward to seeing everyone in Atlanta this year.
So this is what my life has been like WITH PD. Not too shabby! Do you think? I guess I will just have to imagine what my life would be like WITHOUT PD.