My intro used to begin by stating.... "I am one of thousands of faces of Early Onset Parkinson's Disease." I started this blog in 2014 before I turned 50 years old. I was formally diagnosed with PD in December 2013 after struggling since the early 2000's with an unknown intruder that had been slowly disrupting my life.
My blog chronicles the ups and downs of 3,443 days believing I had PD. My motto: "Never give up and never give in"; choosing instead to walk a journey alongside it, all the while hoping it was just a bad dream that I would wake up out of.
How it began......The first symptom that brought me to see my primary care doctor was in January 2009. A weakness on the entire left side of my body - right down the center median. Head to toe - split me in half and my right side was doing all the work while the left side felt like it was dying off. My PCP didn't know what to make of it and started treating me with sports medicine techniques of chiropractic and steroid shots. It did initially ease much of the nerve pain running from my neck, down my shoulder, into my rotator cuff, down the back of my arm, through my elbow, forearm and ending with my ring finger and pinkie. Pain so intense I could not put my elbow on a table and put my head in my hand. But never for long.
The tremor didn't start until December 2011. By then, I was forced to sell my successful business and we moved from South Florida to our summer home in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. In the car on the way to the grocery store just as I was leaving my driveway. I will never forget it. I had the radio on and it was a beautiful blue day. My hands were at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel when it happened. My left pinkie finger started to move uncontrollably.... and never stopped. I just looked at it. In amazement. Perhaps it was nerve damage. I wasn't sure. All I knew was all that pent up excruciating nerve pain I had for a few years immediately disappeared. It shot right out of that pinkie finger, never to return. But now what???
I went to my Wisconsin PCP who sent me to a sweet midwestern neurologist in the middle of nowhere who knew very little about PD. He introduced me and began to treat me with a little pill called Carbidopa Levodopa. That pill changed my life. For the first time in three long years my symptoms improved. A miracle drug. Since there are no definitive diagnostic tests yet for Parkinsons, reacting well to dopamine is the only tell-tale sign you may have it.
Fast forward to June 20, 2018. At this point I am 9 1/2 years into my journey and at Stage 4. It was at Shands Hospital, University of Florida in Gainesville that my life took a 180 degree turn. At an appointment to evaluate me for Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery to stop the tremors I was told I, in fact, do not have Parkinson's Disease (which has no known cure). I was told I have something I never heard of: Functional Neurological DIsorder (FND). FND is treatable and curable. It was always my dream to be cured of PD and that day I was. Crazy; isn't it???
Read about the triumphs and turbulent times dealing with my disease; always staying as positive and motivational as I trekked through a life under constant change that saw me sell my company, divorce my husband after 23 years, become the primary caregiver for my terminally ill dad, find the love of my life, remarry, return to work and regain my footing.
If your story sounds like mine, I encourage you to ask your medical professionals for more information on FND. This is one crazy ride I'm on. My life was definitely never meant to be small. My only hope and prayer is to pay my experiences forward and help someone else before they have to suffer as I did. This could all be about mental health and what your brain will do when it decides to take over because you can't or won't. I've never seen life clearer before today. I have a feeling that balance will lead me to the happy ending I always dreamed of. Its going to take hard work to gain back my physical and mental strength. But it is one fight worth starting. The first doctors were closer to the truth. It may just be all in my head. I can't wait to find out how this story ends!!!!
Lisa Chalker ❤️❤️❤️
(formerly Lisa Borkowski)