Personal Stories

My Diagnosis was a Relief

My Diagnosis was a Relief

Harris Rollins
Richmond Hill, GA

I felt like I was going crazy.

My arm would hurt, felt like it was asleep. I had to repeat everything I said. And I couldn't keep up when walking. No one understood why, including me.

I am 51 as of last December. I am gay and have been partnered for 9 years (as of March 2009). In hindsight, my first symptoms started in 06-06 with hand stiffness and pain. I was treated for 1 year for arthritis with no success.   My partner thought I was having symptoms while I was still with the state since the job was becoming more difficult and I was having trouble keeping up with the load. Plus, it required a lot of driving all over the state of Georgia, which I had always enjoyed, but it was becoming more difficult-I would run off the right hand side of the road-for no apparent reason. So I took early retirement and began looking for another job. In the mean time I began to fall at home-just fall over. People noticed that I had "retired man syndrome"- in that I was slowing down. We all attributed it to de-stressing. My speech was slower, walking was slower, eating took forever. I also became depressed-major depression with suicidal thoughts. This led to hospitalization at the end of 2006 into 2007. 

For New Year’s Eve my partner and I took our son to Disney World. On the way home New Year’s day, I volunteered to drive the remaining 30 miles on the back roads from the interstate to the house. I got pulled over 5 miles from home and arrested for a DUI. I had not been drinking and the tests have proven that. He arrested me for being unable to stand on one leg, not being able to do the finger to the nose test and because my speech was mumbled (which he called slurred). This prompted me to go the doctor.  I was swiftly referred to a neurologist in 2-08 and promptly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

The diagnosis was a relief. I do feel a release of sorts in that I am not crazy.

Since being diagnosed (02-2008), my Parkinson's disease initially was not controlled by medication. My symptoms: poor balance, speech problems, hand and arm (left side) and leg cramps, etc varied abruptly with little change. Finally about 3-4 weeks ago the new meds dosage started kicking in.  I feel better than I have in a long time.  Now the waiting game starts - how long before the symptoms start getting worse again?

I am still learning about PD.  I recently found out that what I mistoook for PD pain was in fact a heel spur.

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