All posts by Sherri Woodbridge

Medford’s Sole Support for PD

The Sole Support Walk-a-thon was a huge success!!!

Our town raised more per person than the rest of the state and considering Medford is one of the more depressed areas in Oregon, that’s a big deal!

We (myself, Josie, Ken, and the invincible Finn {who is checking out the balloons in the photo below}) did the 1k walk quite successfully. No tripping, no falling…

Our team (Team Grammy, as Finn aptly named us) raised 3 times our  personal goal, thanks to many of you.

Finn’s mommy made an adorable custom shirt for him, which is modeled in the last two photos.

We were able to meet some other local PWP’s and see Holly Chaimov, PRO’s director, hear the Uke-ladies, meet some healthcare vendors and more.

Thanks to all who supported my team and I, once again.

You are a huge encouragement!!!


Grammy’s Team


The Invincible Finn and Mommy


The Uke-Ladies


Holly, myself, and Melissa Moran


Finn, Mommy, myself

(picture courtesy of Holly Chaimov)


The Thing About Nurses

imageYou’ve most likely heard about it.

She comes out from behind the curtain. Will she tap dance? Sing opera? Play music on the rims of water-filled crystal glasses?

No, one of this years Miss America comes from behind the curtain dressed in scrubs and donning a stethoscope around her neck. She’s a nurse and she gives a little bit of insight as to what that entails.

Nursing is not your usual talent that is seen or heard at Miss America pageants, but it is a talent. And a gift. Not just anyone has the talent, gift, or guts to pull off that job. But, members of The View, an afternoon gossip show made up of women, felt inclined to mock Miss Colorado for her presentation of being a nurse.

It’s all over the news. Apologies and excuses are being made. Back-pedaling is in full speed, but the damage has been done. Members of The View have shown their realistic level of intelligence while nurses of the world united and demanded an apology. And rightfully so.

Reading up on Kelley Johnson (Miss Colorado), I found she graduated this past spring with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Grand View University and was also valedictorian of her nursing class. Not a simple feat.

View members mocked Johnson for her presentation, asking themselves why Johnson would be wearing a doctor’s stethoscope. I’ll just start with that…

I have had three brain surgeries in the past three years. Between doctor visits in preparation for those surgeries, pre-ops, surgical nurses, before surgery and  after surgery  nurses – I have seen and been cared for by several nurses, male and mostly, female.

They have held my hand, wiped my brow and covered me with warm blankets. They have inserted needles, changed IV bags, removed stitches. They have cleaned wounds, emptied urnals, freshened soiled linens. They have provided prompt medication, explained procedures, answered urgent calls.

They always wore a stethoscope. And a uniform. And shoes.

They all had a four year degree or they wouldn’t have been able to do what they do. Not all were valedictorians. That is a gift. A talent. An exception. A feat to be admired and honored – certainly not laughed at.

They are there at the doctors beck and call, carrying out his orders. They put the motion to the process, providing the care to get the patient back to optimal health. They are there from beginning to end – the first to greet the patient, the last to see them out the door.

They are the ones to go through the discharge cautions and warnings, tips and transitions, explaining the what’s, why’s, and therefore’s. They are cautious yet capable. They are merciful yet tough.

Talent is defined as a special natural ability or aptitude, a power of mind or body given to a person for use or improvement. It is often defined as a gift.

You have to have a gift for changing bloody, infected bandages, day in and day out. For bathing strangers and assisting someone with a bed urnal. You just don’t sign up for those tasks  unless you feel called to serve in that capacity.

A nurse, specifically a RN (registered nurse), must have a four year  degree from an accredted college. A firefighter or an emergency medical technician don’t even need a two year degree and yet we trust them unquestionably with our lives. They get thanked, praised, and commended – deservely so. But how often do you see banners posted, thanking nurses for their services after a disaster or tragedy and hospitals are inundated with an onslaught of patients? Just sayin’.

Thank you, The View, for expressing your thoughts and opinions so that we were able to bring attention to where attention is long overdue and give heartfelt thanks to the nurses who pull long, hard hours to assist in keeping us, and those we love, alive.

I Am My Own Worst Advocate

The other day I stood at my window and watched a man walk down the street. He looked suspitious and he was walking funny. Suspitious because he was checking out every house as he passed by each one and was a bit unkept. Walking funny because he seemed a bit off balance, as if he may have stopped by the local tavern before taking his walk.

I voiced my thoughts verbally to husband who was in the room with me. The moment my judgmental words escaped through my lips, I knew I had made a mistake.

Ten minutes later the same man came walking back and checked out the neighbors front yards and carports, still seeming a bit off balance in his gait. And then he turned up one of the driveways a few houses down and I realized who it was.

Not a stranger, casing houses while the occupannts were away from home, but someone who I didn’t recognize as he’s gone 80% of the time, traveling for his work. And he has a funny walk that makes him look a little off balance, but because I don’t know him well and don’t see him often, I didn’t know it was him and erroneously passed judgement.

I am my own worst advocate.

How many times have I read about the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and how they are misinterpreted by mis- or uninformed individuals who judge what they know very little of? How many times have I fallen victim to such ignorance?

And yet, there I stood at my window, heaping ignorance upon ignorance as I wondered if the man I was observing was snockered. Just as soon as I had voiced it, as I said earlier, I knew I had done the same thing all those people do when they ask, “What’s wrong with you? You never look happy anymore.” (In reference to the stone face syndrome.) Or, “Do I really make you that nervous?” (In reference to shaking/trembling while holding a conversation with a friend.)

They  (‘those’ people) don’t know any better.

I do.

If I am going to be  an effective advocate for Parkinson’s disease, I need to not be doing what would be expected from someone who is uneducated in PD – making assumptions as to why someone is behaving, acting, moving, or speaking a certain way. There are so many invisible diseases and the truth is, you never know who is fighting what.

I Learned Anything

Finn First Fingerpainting
Finn First Fingerpainting

You’ve just gotten home from school.  A conference.  A training course.  What is one of the first questions you may be asked?

“Did you learn anything?”

I remember coming home from elementary school and being asked by my uncle, “Did you learn anything?”


No I didn’t.

That was my response, because day after day that’s how it felt.  That’s how it seemed.  But days after long days you realize you are learning.

I was asked just that question regarding the seminar I attended a couple of years ago.

“Did you learn anything?”

Anna Sanger Reed, one of the staff members of the Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon, came from Portland to Medford to teach a Parkinson’s Disease 101 event.  She gave an overview of Parkinson’s disease (PD), which included general information regarding what PD is and who can get it.  She went over the symptoms of PD, treatments and therapies available and other resources that are currently out there.

Anna mentioned a study done on depression in PD patients and the results showed that the disease progresses faster when depression is involved.  Makes you want to become a clown or buy one and have them around.  Maybe not.  Many people are scared out of their wits over clowns.  I guess they can be intimidating with that big hair, those big lips, the big shoes, and always hiding behind a painted face.

So, I guess that would be the anything I learned (that depression actually aids the progression of PD) which when I think about it, is good to know.  Because so many people can battle depression in PD, it’s important to know if you’re one of those people.

Do you feel ‘down’/’blue’?  Do you feel lifeless and tired, like you’re dragging?  You have no energy and  want to just crawl back into bed (if you got out) and go back to sleep?  Are  your thoughts focused on defeat or hope?

Because depression can be life threatening in it’s own way, it’s so very important to be aware of any signs that you may be struggling in this darkness and seek help right away from your doctor.  Or go get yourself a nice , well-behaved clown.

Why? Because.

Finn's First Fingerpainting, age 9 months
Finn’s First Fingerpainting, age 9 months

As a child, I was taught not to question my parents. Growing up, I decided since I believed that God was sovereign and had a reason for everything that He did, there was no reason to question Him, either.

A few years ago, I finally got angry. I really hadn’t gotten angry yet over this thing called Parkinson’s disease, but I figured it was about time.

I had gone through some first stages of dealing with my Parkinson’s – sadness, grief. But never anger. It had been two years and it hit me. I was only 47, my doctor confident that I’d been struggling with this Little Monster since before the age of 32 (when it had been misdiagnosed as systemic lupus). But for me, on that day, it had been two definite years of knowing that I’d been labeled with Parkinson’s disease.

And that day I was angry.

Because I was only 47.

Because my right arm and my right hand shake.

Because my legs shake and my feet as well.

Because my jaw and face shake.

Because I can’t smell roses anymore.

Because sometimes it’s hard to swallow and do other things that I used to not think about like button my pants or put on my watch.

Because I get tired more easily and it’s hard to make it through the day without a nap.

Because I am not as strong as I used to be.

Because my foot drags and I’ve been known to trip on occasion and then fall.

Because I have fallen down stairs twice. Ungracefully, I might add.

Because my mind always seems scattered. (Hey, it’s my disease – I can blame anything on it!)

Because I don’t sleep well.

Because I can get nauseaus from the medicine.

Because I have Parkinson’s.

Those are all pretty good reasons to be angry, right? I wasn’t angry at God, but perhaps it would be better said, I was angry with Him. He allowed this to be, but He didn’t cause it. So, we got angry together. And in my anger, I wanted to ask, “Why?”

But I didn’t.

Instead, I sat there as He dried my tears and He whispered, “Jesus wept and He also asked why.” I stopped crying and thought about what He had just said to me.

My God, my God,” Christ cried out on the cross, “why have you forsaken me?

He was not condemned for asking His heavenly Father “Why?” and there doesn’t seem to be an answer there that we are aware of  to the question He asks of his Father. But I am quite confident the answer was there even if we are unaware of it. And I am quite confident that Jesus already knew what the answer was, just as I usually know the answer to my why’s, making it useless to even ask ‘Why?‘.

Why do I have Parkinson’s?

Why not?

Why not me??

Why does my friend have kidney disease?

Why do those we love struggle with hard things?

Why did my aunt have to die from medical neglect?

Why does a friend of mine have to care for children whose biological parents don’t care enough about their own children to get off of drugs?

Why, why, why?

As little children harassing our parents, the quick-witted response was usually, “Because, because, because!!!” As God’s children, the wise response is often also… “Because.” We can ask why until our list of questions is exhausted and the answer may still come back as “Because.”

I think asking why almost gives you an answer within the asking. By asking why of an all-powerful, all-knowing God, we are admitting that we cannot and are unable to control our lives nor the lives of those who we love. We realize that God is real, even though we may choose to walk away because of what He allowed for reasons we may never understand. We may choose to deny Him because we don’t agree with what He allows. He gives us a free will to make that choice.

However, while He allows things to happen in life that we would prefer to have pass over us and leave us unscathed from life’s messes and mistakes, He remains sovereign and is there with us, no matter how bad it gets. He will make us stronger, wiser, and humble inwardly and more compassionate, patient, and forgiving toward others outwardly. If I cannot understand the why’s, I can be thankful for the blessings that come out of the why’s.

So, ultimately, I have Parkinson’s disease. If just one life is encouraged, if just one life is strengthened, if just one person feels more hopeful and not alone – then that is why I have this Little Monster hanging around. And, it may not make me happy to have PD, but it definitely brings me joy to be used because of it.

Journeying with you ~


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