TPC Blog

Philly Parkinson’s Blog

Welcome to my blog, a personal experience with Parkinson’s Disease.

My name is Suzanne Quinn and I am a Philadelphia area women, mom and nurse on a journey with my family, like many of you, to live well with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). It’s difficult to understand what a Parkinson’s family experiences unless you are involved yourself. Maybe you’re the care partner, or the person with PD.

My symptoms started in my 40’s with Muscular-Skeletal aches along with other “normal aging symptoms.” My friends and I lamented that this was part of getting older, but as time went on there was a new symptom that It took a year of workups and consults before the diagnosis came, Parkinson’s Disease. I was only 50 years old! It explained why I was so tired all of the time and had weakness on my right side. It also shed some light on why my gait was off and my arm wasn’t swinging. You know that moment when everything clicks? It did when the doctor explained what was going on. Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease.

I was working in the pharmaceutical industry at the time as an Occupational Health Nurse. I was relieved to have an answer to all of the odd physical symptoms. Maybe I was in a haze when the neurologist talked about the medicines and first line treatments. I didn’t shed a tear at the appointment. Maybe it was because he was so direct with the news. I am a naturally optimistic and grounded person. My husband and I left the office; the journey began.

Going home after the appointment may have been harder than the appointment. My three children were there waiting anxiously for news about the meeting with the neurologist. I shared the Parkinson’s diagnosis and tried to calm all their concerns. But I was unprepared for the next question. Is it genetic? While I knew of no family history, I knew there is a genetic component. I kept reassuring my kids, “You probably won’t get it, it’s a small percentage of people who have a genetic component.” I still remember my daughter was pacing nervously around the room. 

I probably hadn’t even started processing what just happened, and I was already trying to tend to my kids’ anxieties. I put a happy face on so my family didn’t worry. Then I put the same face on at work. I had a lot of responsibilities in both the office and family life and was driven to succeed, but I could sense my ability to continue to work fast-paced and be productive was being impacted. 

I noticed how difficult it was to dial into a conference call – all of those numbers to dial in then another set of numbers for the passcode. So many numbers on a tiny keypad. Something that used to be simple, a conference call, was vexing me! That was one of the moments that I knew work was not going to be the same.

Did you have a similar experience with your work? Please share it in the comments below.

Next Blog: More challenges at work and I meet a man who doesn’t hear take no for an answer

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