PARKINSON’S EPIPHANY

As many of you know, May is Parkinson’s Awareness month.  I want to thank you all for your support over the years and give a special thanks to those who have contributed to the Parkinson’s Foundation Move It Walk on May 22 in Charlotte, NC. 

You would think that I, above all people, would be fully aware of Parkinson’s and all of its aspects.  Afterall, both my father and his father had Parkinson’s.  I’m embarrassed to say that I have spent a lifetime avoiding anything to do with Parkinson’s.  As a physician, I actively referred Parkinson’s patients to specialists, transferring their care away as caring for them meant facing the disease that has overshadowed much of my life.

Over the years, those very patients have tried on multiple occasions to get me involved in the Parkinson’s community and Rock Steady.  Each attempt to pull me in was met with a cold shoulder.  I owe those caring souls an apology.

As my readers know, retiring and moving to Charlotte left me with no place to hide and I went through a period where I simply gave up on life.  My view of Parkinson’s was so dismal that, as far as I was concerned, the end could not come fast enough.  During that period, my articles were pretty dark; and, in response, my readers showered me with love.  So did my children and grandchildren.

As I was emerging from those dark days, I found a Rock Steady group at the Charlotte Jewish Community Center and, to please Renee, signed up.  I was welcomed into the group with open arms.  It was to be a monumental moment in my life.  I found myself surrounded by Parkinson’s but not the Parkinson’s I had hidden from all my life.  Instead, I found a group of individuals who were living with their Parkinson’s rather than dying with it as I was.

I saw, firsthand, individuals who literally fell down only to get up and move on. I’ve written on many occasions about Mr. Wonderful whose mantra was, “If you fall down 6 times, get up 7 times.” Here I found people who followed the mantra.  I also found individuals who were quick to come to my aid if I needed it.

While I try not to play the “Would have, could have” game, I should have listened to my patients and gotten involved with the Parkinson’s Community sooner.  I’ve wasted a lot of time and have some catching up to do.  Now that I’m finally involved, it’s my job to make sure that others learn from my mistake.  Parkinson’s Awareness month needs to be Parkinson’s Awareness Decade and that takes money.

Renee and I will be walking with my newfound community on May 22nd.  My goal is to raise as much money as possible so please contribute what you can.  The newest research is promising.  I will see the neurosurgeon this month and am planning on having the DBS (deep brain stimulation) procedure and will keep you informed.

To make a contribution supporting my efforts go to: stewart Segal’s fundraising page for Parkinson Association of the Carolinas  (https://give.parkinsonassociation.org/fundraiser/3206084) do a control/click on the underlined text or copy and paste the address into your web browser and it should take you to my page.  If you have problems, please let me know.

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