Tag Archives: symptoms

10 Signs You MIGHT Have Parkinson’s Disease

imageYou look like you have PD. You act like you have PD. You talk like you have PD. You feel like you have PD. You sound like you have PD. You smell like you have PD (It’s true!).

Point: All of the above may seem true, but it won’t necessarily mean you have Parkinson’s disease. Because this disease can mimic so many other neurological diseases, including Lyme disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Lupus (to name just a few), it is extremely important to get an accurate diagnosis, and that could take years and several opinions of highly qualified doctors.

However, there are markers that are quite prevalent to Parkinson’s disease that should send you seeking a definitive diagnosis, no matter how long it takes.

Here are ten signs that you might have Parkinson’s disease, which exclude the biggie – tremors (because everyone usually associates that one with PD automatically).

  1. Loss of smell.  You notice flowers no longer have a fragrance. Ben-Gay doesn’t knock you out. You can’t smell dinner. If your nose isn’t constantly plugged up, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.
  2. Loss of facial expression.  imagePeople ask why you look so sad. People ask why you look so unhappy. Although Parkinson’s disease can alter our moods and cause mild to severe depression, what they are seeing is the affects that PD has on facial muscles. Doesn’t that make you oh, so happy?
  3. Gait.  You trip often. Perhaps even fall. You notice one of your feet won’t keep up with the other and drags somewhat. You may have a shuffling effect like that of a penguin when you walk. No, you are not part bird. You might have PD.
  4. Soft voice.  People tell you to speak up. People are always saying “What?” when you speak, as if they aren’t even listening. They tell you to not speak so softly. You may not be able to help it if it’s Parkinson’s.
  5. Dystonia.  Do your toes tend to curl under in pain? Your muscles seize up and hurt like the dickens? You might be able to blame the disease.
  6. Handwriting.  Did you once get praised for your handwriting? How lovely, legible and readable it was and now it’s barely more than scribble? Could be…
  7. Stiffness/Rigidity.  Is your neck often stiff? An ache in the shoulders/neck area/back? Hmmm…
  8. Balance.  Some people have actually been stopped by authorities who have thought they are dealing with someone who is intoxicated because of the way they are walking. Nope. Just Parkinson’s, but it might make you want to drink.
  9. Non-Swinging Arm.  Someone asks you why only one of your arms swings while you walk. MICHAEL J FOXSomeone asked Michael J. Fox that same question while he was jogging. His wife. That sent him to the doctor, which for him, was the beginning of a new journey…
  10. Doctor’s opinion.  
    Dr. Santiago, Boo's Black Doggy, and me after  first programming of DBS stimulator.
    Dr. Santiago (a great MDS), Boo’s Black Doggy, and me after my first programming of DBS stimulator. Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center, Pheonix, Arizona.
    What?!? Yes, a doctor’s opinion may be a sign you have PD and I say MIGHT because doctors are not gods and they make mistakes and get it wrong. With Parkinson’s disease, it is not uncommon to be misdiagnosed the first, second, even third go around. As said earlier, it mimics so many other diseases that it can be difficult for some neurologists to diagnose accurately, which is why a doctor’s opinion MIGHT be a sign that you have PD and, in the same respect, that you DON’T have PD.

If you are concerned you may have PD because you’re showing any of the signs above, the best point of action is to make an appointment with a good neurologist – one that has experience with Parkinson’s disease or, better yet, a Movement Disorder Specialist (a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders specifically). And if you don’t like the first diagnosis, get another one. If they differ, get another one. Don’t stop until you are satisfied that you have the correct diagnosis and peace of mind over what you are dealing with. It might not be the greatest news you’ve ever gotten, but at least you’ll know what you’re up against and what you’ll need for your new journey.

Most Popular Posts on Parkinson’s Journey

imageThese are the most popular posts on Parkinson’s Journey:

Hundreds of people with Parkinson’s disease tell what their first noticeable symptoms were

People with Parkinson’s were polled as to what their fears are about PD. These are the answers.

What does it take to be an advocate for PD?

A poem on what people with PD live with

Facts about PD infographics

10 things every person with PD wants in life

This Is Parkinson’s


my knees are shakin’
it’s not from being nervous
this is parkinson’s

stiff muscles abound
throughout my aching body
this is parkinson’s

lips quiver, teeth click
smile turns into a frown
this is parkinson’s

toes and fingers bend
involuntarily ‘cuz
this is parkinson’s

legs, arms, sides, back and
stomach seize up in great pain
this is parkinson’s

voice falters and fades
i shout and they yell ‘speak up’
this is parkinson’s

i choke on my food
swallowing becomes harder
this is parkinson’s

tripping and falling
walking like a cute penguin
‘cuz of parkinson’s

writing becomes hard
what once was legible is
now parkinson’s scratch

depression and some
forgetfulness issues are
because of it too

the little monster
is to blame
for most all of
that is wrong with me

the good and the bad
and the happy and the sad
a blessing, a curse

badly plugged poop stools
(to make it fit this haiku)…
due to parkinson’s

with one side I am
almost free and with the other
i am bound in chains

to a disease they –
I – we – all call parkinson’s
‘cuz that’s what it is

confusion and a
thing called forgetfulness could
be the… i forget

greater now is the
understanding, compassion,
‘cuz of parkinson’s

confusion, and some
irritability are
blamed on parkinson’s

and why not? if i
must bare this crazy disease
i ask you – why not?

why not blame it for
being snappy and silly
and for all things else

like running into
walls and tripping over chairs
and things of that kind?

why not blame it for
everything in life gone wrong?
seems fair to me, huh?

it took from my life
what wasn’t its to take and…
it just keeps taking

but am i angry?
no – i hold no grudges on
things i cannot see

and though i can see
God in this world around me
i aim no blame at Him

i do not see Him
in this hideous disease
but because of it

i see Him because
of His comfort and His care
and the way He loves

with His strong arms and
His great, matchless mercy and
never ending grace

He is in the all
His faithfulness trustworthy
with hope i endure

it may be ‘cuz of
that i suffer
or maybe it’s not

but this i do know…
it’s because of God i live
joy unspeakable

Bringing Awareness to Something You’d Just as Soon Forget

Some  people think Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder and they would be correct. Others would say it is a disease that affects more than movement and they would be right. Some say it starts with a tremor and that is likely. Some say it starts with stiffness and that is a possibility but did you know the first symptom that is often overlooked and undertreated is depression?

April is Parkinson’s Awareness month and with that comes a responsibility to make aware the effects of this disease to the community at large by those affected by it. If people wtih Parkinson’s disease (PD) or people who know someone with PD don’t bring an awareness to this debilitating disease, no one else will. If it’s not important to make known the importance of finding a cure with those affected by PD, it won’t be important to anyone else.

PD can take many forms. It can begin with depression, as stated above, include tremors, dystonia (a cramping and tightening of the fingers, feet, neck, and/or other parts of the body. The Parkinson’s patient can experience dyskenesia – involuntary flailing about movements. These are the signs/symptoms that most people generally associate this diease with, but that is becasuse these are the symptoms of having Parkinson’s that are visible. Other signs that are not as commonly known and have been associated with having Parkinson’s disease include losing the ability to smell, uncontrolled drooling, a softening of the voice, walking as if you are dragging your foot, a shuffled walk, tripping/falling, and more.

Parkinson’s disease is also known as an invisible diease becasuse there are many other symptoms that are found with having PD. Along with the visible signs, the invisible signs take just as strong a toll on the body, both physcially and mentally. These invisible signs can include severe back and neck pain, migraine-like headaches, a tightening of the muscles, a change in handwriting quality, an expressionless face, and also depression, as mentioned above. 

Someone can have all the symptoms associated with PD, some of the symptoms, and/or some sympotms can change or disappear. PD mimicks so many other diseases, such as Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis that it often makes it difficult to properly diagnose and often takes a neurologist who speciaizes in movement disorders to make a correct diagnosis. This is especially true with people who are experiencing symptoms at an age uncommon to those riddled with PD (the elderly).  This age group of people – those who are diagnosed under the age of 60 – are known as patients with Young Onset Parkinson’s disease (YOPD) and the number of those being diagnosed with YOPD is increasing daily. What was once known as an “old people’s disease” is becoming more common with those under the age of 50.

There are several organizations with resources readily available for the asking. These include the Michael J Fox Foundation (michaeljfox.org), the Natioinal Pakrinson’s Foundation (parkinson.org), and the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (apdaparkinson.org). In Oregon, the Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon (parkinsonsresources.org) is available to answer quesitons regarding PD and also has much informatioin available to the public as well.

PD doesn’t play favorites. It does not take age into account, gender, or race. It can affect anyone, at any time. It can advance quickly or it can progress slowly. The cause and the cure is still unknown, which is why bringing awareness to this disease is so important. If I (now 55 and having had PD for 24 years) don’t think it important in bringing awareness to this debilitating disease, I can’t expect anyone else to think it important.

Journeying with you,


Out of Control

drooling on my pillow
shuffling my feet
choking when i do
and when i don’t eat

shaking out of my control
my jaw, my lips, my face
all of them are quivering
i feel so out of place

i’m shaking on the outside
i’m shaking from within
i’m shaking all over
right out of my skin

toes that curl and cramp
fingers that stiffen and bend
is it in my future
to ever feel normal again

stiffness on the left
stiffness on the right
more cramping, more pain
every muscle – so tight

lots and lots
lots and lots of pain
pain masked, pain ignored
pain again and again

grief for things gained
grief for things lost
trying to live each day with joy
no matter what the cost

out of my control
i’m controlled by my brain
sometimes i feel so out of control
that i’ll go completely insane

depression vies for my attention
i push it back in its place
it beckons, mocks, screams my name
but i am not going to run its race

my speech is soft
my speech gets slurred
others often don’t hear and think
i haven’t said a word

mixed up, mixed up
out of my control
it might claim my body
but it will never break my spirit
or ever take my soul


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