3-Year Timeline of Parkinson’s Signs

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
Soren Kierkegaard
Danish philosopher (1813 – 1855)

I embarked on a circuitous route for three years headed for an unknown destination. Only later would I understand a myriad of Parkinson’s signs.

What Does It All Mean?

March 2011

A four-hour drive to a book  fair left me struggling to get out of my car. I had driven the same car for five years and now I had to drag myself out of the car. I thought this challenge came with “aging” since I had recently turned 61.

November 2011

I was walking awkward. My gait was off. I used to walk fast. My long fluid strides were gone. It seemed like I had forgotten how to walk.

February 2012

I was at a weekly yoga class. I don’t recall what pose I was attempting on my right side. What I do remember is my teacher’s comment.
“I recommend you see a neurologist.”

March 2012

One morning a professor was running late. She asked me to write a note on the chalk board so students would wait. To my astonishment, I could not write big. Over two years, my handwriting got tinier and almost illegible. Joe had trouble reading my notes. I could barely read my own minuscule handwritten “To Do” lists. Still I was not alarmed. I thought my problem was right elbow tendonitis. Even a doctor thought so.

When it was time to prepare hand written Thanksgiving cards for the faculty, my graduate assistants wrote the message. I managed to sign 50 cards.

April 2012

While walking on the campus, a colleague on an adjacent sidewalk called out to me.
“What’s wrong with your arm?”
“What do you mean?”
“You are holding your right arm funny.”
I looked down and the arm was stiff and slightly curved across my stomach. That’s odd.
“Oh, nothing. It is fine.”

May 2012

I paid attention to my arms and noticed my right arm did not swing when I walked. It just hung at my side. I was perplexed. I watched people walk and arms moved. Even children moved their arms! My arm responded to my command:  swing that arm. However, I never had to talk to my arm before to get it to move.  I thought maybe I had suffered a mini stroke.

Summer 2013

Pain in my right elbow was unbearable. The year before I moved a piece of furniture and then aggravated the injury while carrying a heavy shopping bag. I also spent most working hours on the computer. I managed the pain with acupuncture and a steady diet of Aleve.  An orthopedic surgeon diagnosed tendonitis. A physical therapist administered treatments for several months. I eventually got better. In October, a can of cat food hit the top of my right foot causing a hairline fracture and pain that trumped the elbow pain!

January 2014

After my foot healed, a balance problem developed. I tipped backwards without warning. If I stooped down, I landed on the floor. I consulted an ear specialist certain he would find an inner ear issue or worse yet an acoustic neuroma. After various negative tests, a MRI also ruled out a brain tumor. I was advised to see a neurologist.

April 2014

I saw a nurse practitioner for an unrelated issue. A casual conversation led to mentioning my balance and walking challenges. With a serious look and tone she said, “You need to see a neurologist immediately.” The next morning she called with a referral.

May 13, 2014

I reached the destination of a long  three-year journey. In a simple  two-hour consultation that uncovered  Parkinson’s signs, the neurologist puzzled out diagnosis.

Question:  What were your Parkinson’s signs that led to diagnosis?

I would love to hear your story.



Photo Credit Jamie Street


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    • Maureen Lambert on July 24, 2018 at 8:52 pm
    • Reply

    I am a retired RN born in 1952
    Twelve years ago tripped in the bathroom. Fractured right tib fib had surgery to pin screw ankle
    Eight years ago I noticed tremor right foot. Worse with stress Was diagnosed with essential tremor. Propranolol helped.
    Progression of tremor. Loss of right arm fine motor (micrografia. Lost arm swing). Realized sense of smell greatly diminished. Gait a little off. Fatigue bad
    Four years ago diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Started low dose sinemet
    As a recovery room nurse I was allowed to work 8 hour shifts. This allowed me to work 3 days per week and take weekend call. Tremor increased to right arm. My diagnosis is mixed tremor disorder. ET with PD. I retired one year ago at age 65 after a patient noticed my tremor. “Need a drink?” Ha. It was time. I currently take sinemet cr one three times a day and sinemet one half three times a day both 25/100. I wonder if my bathroom fall 12 years ago was an indication of gait problems. My neurologist has done no testing other than exam. Knowing each other as Md / Rn he watched me walk and could see the changes. I also had kidney stones surgery last August. I turned into a sloth and by October found I could not get up from floor anymore. I signed up for rock steady boxing 🥊 in November. Everything got better. Saw neurologist in April. He didn’t want to make med changes due to my improvements. Boxing is great in a number of ways. The group support is amazing. Some of my buddies have never had tremors. A number of early onset. In my class we have worki MD and lawyer. Retired teachers etc. some have DBS. Feel free to email me

    1. Thank you Maureen for visiting my blog and taking time to share your history of symptoms. I, too, have found that stress exacerbates Parkinson’s. I have not done rock steady boxing, but have seen the positive effects on some of the people in my support group. One man around our age went from walking stooped over with help of walker to getting rid of walker. I will stay in touch and email. I really appreciate hearing from you.

    • Mary Ann Brghtwell on July 24, 2018 at 8:52 pm
    • Reply

    Linda I thought of you this past Sunday as I buried my 17 year old cat. Penny. I had rescued her one day at work when I was at the Iowa State Prison in Ft Madison , she was about 4 weeks old at the time and a feral cat. she was a tortoise color. I encourage you on your new journey.

    1. Mary Ann, So sorry to hear about your sweet Penny. How wonderful for Penny and you that she appeared that day long ago. I know how hard it is to say goodbye to our feline friends. Thank you for letting me know. Hugging you with my heart.

    • June Ritar on July 25, 2018 at 12:21 am
    • Reply

    Dear Linda,
    My Parkinson’s developed very much like yours, starting with my right arm not swinging when I walked & ending up clutched across my chest. Next came the small writing, so small I couldn’t read it. I went to a physiotherapist for six months with no improvement. Finally I said to my GP, “Do you think it could have anything to do with Parkinson’s?” His reply was ” It could. I will send you to a Neurologist.” After an hour’s consultation, I had my answer. It was Parkinson’s. I was relieved that now I knew what I had. I wasn”t imagining it.
    Because I have had strange reactions to medication in the past, I didn’t start treatment immediately. A year later I knew I was getting worse eg I couldn’t feel the wool I was using to knit and couldn’t get the tension right. My son and his wife had just announced that they were expecting their first child. I had knitted for all the family, especially the babies. I returned to the Neurologist and started treatment in 2008. I haven’t looked back, my Parkinson’s has progressed slowly, I exercise daily, am active in the local support group and at age 76 still get down on the floor to play with my one year old great grand daughter.

    1. Thank you June for taking the time to share your journey. Yes, it was a relief to me as well to finally know what was wrong. I am inspired by how you have been in charge the past ten years by taking medicine for symptom control, exercising, being socially active with a support group, being creative with your knitting and staying engaged with your family! I am so glad to hear PD is slowly progressing, but I believe your attitude and resilience have something to do with that!! I look forward to staying in touch.

    • June Ritar on July 25, 2018 at 3:25 am
    • Reply

    Thank you Linda. My priority is to do what I can while I can. I want to play an active part in the lives of my husband, my three adult children, their spouses, their children and their grandchildren. I want them to remember me as a person who loved them very much and who was there at the important events in their lives.

    1. My pleasure June. Your philosophy “do what I can while I can” is mine as well. I would add that it always has been even before PD. No one really knows how the future will unfold.

    • Jackie on July 26, 2018 at 3:09 pm
    • Reply

    i had a similar journey, although mine was more denial than lack of medical feedback.
    I did write it up and would be happy to send to you.

    1. Yes, I’d like to read it. I appreciate you taking the time to look back at your journey. Please email to [email protected]. Thanks Jackie.

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