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  • Writer's pictureEllen Bookman

I made someone smile today.

Story of the day. I met a new friend today while boxing with LDBF – Boxing for Parkinson’s program in Sandy Springs, GA. As mentioned in my first-ever blog post, doctors say that boxing is the perfect exercise for those diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I will go into more detail in a future post on the importance of boxing with Parkinson’s, including research and science to prove this point. No fake news here! Yay, my first attempt at being funny!

I began boxing in February 2018, one month after my diagnosis. I walked into a strange gym feeling depressed, scared and lost. Today, one year later, I walked into our new home Fitness Firm Studio for my boxing class, and I saw myself a year ago in my new friend who was recently diagnosed. I could tell he needed to talk. After class, we went to IHOP and talked along with Marc, the head of the Boxing for Parkinson’s program. I believe that after opening up, he might have smiled, if just a little bit. I told him we are a community – we are here for each other – we are a family. I think I heard him sigh with relief. New friend we are here for you.

Medication Overdose. At my diagnosis, the neurologist mentioned that I needed to exercise (and said boxing was the Parkinson’s rage — actually she very nonchalantly told me I should box and that was all she said) except to tell me that I needed to eat healthy. Ok, so I am going to make my second attempt at being funny. I said to my husband, after my mind was not numb anymore from the diagnosis, “why did I have to get diagnosed with a disease that required exercise and healthy eating? Isn’t there a disease that let’s you sit on the couch and eat crap all day?” Mike drop!

For weeks, I sat on the couch literally freaking out. Lee would come home and said he never knew if I was going to be crying, staring into space or having an anxiety attack. Every single thing that happened, I over analyzed. I had no idea what to expect, and my doctor didn’t give me any information on ways to cope — oh, she did give me some pamphlets to read. She also told me that anxiety is not a part of Parkinson’s, which absolutely is not true. I kept reaching out to her, and she kept adding more doses of dopamine to my daily regiment.

The more medicine she gave me, the more symptoms I seemed to get. I actually started having major Parkinson’s episodes of shaking, wiggling, stiffness, restless leg syndrome, and panic attacks. Every day at 7 or 8 pm, the anxiety started. I couldn’t sleep for months. I lost 20 lbs. in a very short period of time. She told me to come back in four months. I trust most people. I am loyal. I trusted her to take care of me. I would not consider switching doctors.

By June, six months after being diagnosed, my body was moving like a person who had had the disease for many years. I couldn’t take it anymore — I still wasn’t sleeping. My weight went lower. I trusted her to take care of me. So, instead of switching doctors, Lee and I went to Colorado in June for a much needed and anticipated vacation. I was taking zanax to sleep. I was taking eight dopamine pills a day and three Mirarpex. I am 4’9″ and 90 lbs.

We immediately went to a dispensary with my friend — my very first time. It was sheer ecstacy being in there — I could actually buy some weed, smoke it, and I wouldn’t be arrested. I was in heaven. Then, I blacked out. I was awake, walking and talking, but I don’t really remember anything about the trip. I had dinner with my fabulous nephew and his friend, and I don’t remember. I went hiking on Independence Pass near Vail, went to a hotel and dinner remembering nothing. I had dinner with friends that were a complete blur. I was humiliated. I trusted her to take care of me.

As soon as we got back to Atlanta, I told Lee that I had to get a new doctor and a psychiatrist. I went to my Boxing friends and asked around. And, then Dr. Barry McCasland, Atlanta Neurologist, came into my life. He takes care of me! He sees me. He recognizes that I am in the struggle of a lifetime.

Lessons learned so far: If you are not comfortable with your doctor, then switch; don’t pop zanax and smoke weed when you are over medicated with dopamine; and make a new friend and

show them that they are not alone!

I might have made someone smile today…


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