Today I am thinking about—of all things—Parkinson’s Disease. April is National PD Month and as the co-author with the brilliant Dr. Michele Tagliati of Parkinson’s Disease for Dummies, this is a time of year when I spend time thinking of my sister, who died of the disease and of my friend and co-author of the original PDFD, Dr. Gary Guten. Gary, a marathon runner and lifelong health nut, lived with PD for over two decades, with lived being the right description. He tried everything to find some level of quality for his life. He was among the first to use cross country ski poles to aid in his walking as he continued to travel. He and his doctor realized that lateral (side-to-side) movement is not as affected as forward/back movement by the disease so continued to play golf and ping pong. Late in his journey he realized flexibility in his fingers was being affected, so signed on for piano lessons. He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him.
There are a number of celebrities who have received this progressive and devastating diagnosis and stepped up to the plate to find their best life in spite of it. Michael J. Fox has long been the face of courage and perseverance for living with PD. The Michael J. Fox Foundation has provided funds for research that have led to several advances in fighting PD. If you’re in a giving mood, this would be a good time to make a donation, or buy a copy of the book for someone you know who is living with PD (or that person’s caregiver).