Posted by: PD Warrior | July 31, 2016

The Truth, The Way, and The Light

With all the political tripe and outright garbage being slung around from left to right, and right to left, a lot of my friends are starting to get at each other’s throats; both sides screaming at each other in ALL CAPS. One side claiming their candidate said “this or that,” while the other side says “that’s a lie;” both sides screaming CHECK YOUR FACTS!

With that being said, I have one question- why do we need to fact check our candidates? If they are so adept at lying – and both of them are – why are they being chosen to run our country?

The answer is simple, people. Its because we are allowing it to happen. It’s because we have turned a blind eye to the Truth, the Way, and the Light.

It’s because we have taken the Ten Commandments from our court rooms and public places so as not to offend others.

It’s because we have removed prayer from our class rooms so as not to offend others. It’s because we have elevated deviance to the norm. It’s because we have abandoned Christ, and turned instead to Baal.

And to that, I have two things to say:

First – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the gentile.” Romans 1:16

Second – “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” 2Chronicals 7:14

I used to believe the most important thing I could do on Election Day was to cast my vote. I have since come to know, the most important thing I can do on Election Day (and every day) is pray.

Pray first, pray last, and pray every moment in between. In choosing to do that, though I will make plenty of mistakes, I will never go wrong.

Posted by: PD Warrior | May 1, 2016

Fighting The Good Fight


Last week I spent an awesome weekend in NYC with my wonderful wife, and two of the finest friends anyone could ask for – my pastor and his wife – participating in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk. And, just as every other year that I have participated, I learned something. I leaned something about myself, I learned something about life, and I learned something far more important.

So, what did I learn about myself?

Well, a couple things:

First, I am out of shape. Walking around the city kicked my butt! Not because of the Parkinson’s (although that didn’t help) but simply because I am out of shape. I walk around quite a bit in my day to day life, but I didn’t stop to think that I don’t do that much walking all at once. Gasp…I’m getting out of breath just thinking about it. Rest assured I won’t make that mistake twice – I’m never going back to New York City again…

Kidding… I will go back. I will do the Unity Walk again. But I will be in better shape. If that experience wasn’t incentive to exercise, nothing will be.

Second, I am not the only one with PD. I know this. In my mind I know this very well, but for whatever reason I tend to forget this extremely obvious fact. I am not the only one with the disease. And, truth be told, I’ve got it easy. Yes, I have PD. I’ve had it for 12 years. Yes the shakes are aggravating. The loss of balance is vexing. The sleep disorder is down right annoying. The physical contortions I go through when I fall are just…well, those are kinda funny. (Relax, and read my previous post “If I Only Had A Camera,” then you’ll understand. If I can’t laugh at myself, who can I laugh at?)

No, compared to others, I’ve got it good. I can still walk, I can still work. I saw fellow Parkies that put me to shame with their resilience and fortitude under conditions far, far worse than what I am going through.

Next, I learned about life. Traveling the streets of the “Big Apple” I saw all sorts of people. I saw artists of all shapes, sizes and genres. People singing and dancing in the subway stations and on the trains themselves. Spray paint artists, creating fantastic pictures using nothing but spray paints, scrapers, rags to wipe away sections on the canvas, and doing it so quickly and expertly it boggles the mind – gorgeous scenes created in mere minutes.

And I saw homeless people…


Some humble. Some not so humble, and other’s still that words can not describe.

There are homeless people where I live too, but, I hate to say it, they are for the most part out of sight and therefore ashamedly out of mind. At home they are easy to forget about. In “The City,” they are undeniable. We gave what we could, where we could, when we could, but it wasn’t nearly enough. My heart cries for these people.

Lastly, I learned the most important lesson of all. It came in the form of a Bible verse that I had all but forgotten about – a verse that my wife had printed on shirts she surprised me with for my team members and myself to wear on the day of the walk. I have called myself “The PD Warrior ever since coming down with this stupid disease, but in reality, I am not the “true” warrior. I am nothing without my wife and kids. I am nothing without my church. And I am certainly less than nothing without my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The verse was this: “It is the Lord your God who fights for you.” Joshua 23:3

There is no greater truth than that!



Posted by: PD Warrior | April 20, 2016

If I Only Had A Camera

I have had Parkinson’s for almost 12 years now. Longer if you count the amount of time the symptoms were visible before I was officially diagnosed, but for the sake of argument I’ll stick with 12 years. That’s a dozen years of experience. A dozen years of aggravation. One hundred-forty-four months of learning.

And a whole lot of things to laugh about!

Don’t hate me…

I’m not saying Parkinson’s is funny. It isn’t. And I, of all people, should know. After all, as I said above, Ive had this particular thorn in my side for 12 years. I remember times when I was devastated by it. I remember times when I was angry at it, times when I was afraid, times when I was confused, and times when I just had to laugh…

I remember the day I invented a new Olympic sport that I like to call “skate diving.”  It was on a cold winter evening, and my daughter had come over to the house to talk to my wife about something real quick. My son in-law had stayed out in the vehicle because my first grandson was asleep in his car seat, and they didn’t want to wake him. Well, I wasn’t going to waste an opportunity to see the grandchild, so while the women were talking I slipped out of the house to peek in on the kid…literally. I took a couple steps across the drive, and the next thing  know I did some kind of triple sow-cow thing, straight into a half back flip belly flopper cartwheel, rolled over on to my back and finished off the routine by sliding up to my waist under my son-in-laws van like Pete Rose stealing second base. I heard him say “What the…” as he stuck his head out the window to see where I went, and the next thing I know we were both laughing so hard we were in tears.  He gave me a 2 for style, and a 10 for originality.

Where was the camera when I needed it? I could have gotten rich off that one.

I remember struggling with a pill bottle one time. For the life of me I could not get it open, no matter how I tried. I got so mad that I slammed it down on the counter, and wouldn’t you know it…the top popped off and all the pills went flying, scattered six ways to Sunday. And I couldn’t help but laugh…after I got done cussing.

Where was the camera when I needed it?

When it comes to my life with Parkinson’s, I have learned to fall with style. I have at times been all three stooges at once. And I have laughed.

I have had people get angry at me for the way I joke about the disease, but in my defense, I have never poked fun at anyone else, only myself. It’s what I do. It’s how I cope. And if I can make someone else laugh in the process, well, that’s even better.

In the mean time, someone needs to follow me around with a camera!

Posted by: PD Warrior | April 9, 2016

The Invisible Man

Sometimes that’s exactly what I feel like –


You see, there are so many aspects to the Parkinson’s disease that are not noticeable, not readily observable, that people don’t realize they are there. There is pain involved. Aches in stiff muscles that I didn’t even realize I had – sore, not because I have over worked them, but because at times that’s just the way it is with PD, And because I don’t like to draw attention to it, I say nothing and it goes unnoticed .

Then there is the word search, a symptom of PD that is so insidious that most people don’t even realize it is a part of the disease. It’s when you are having a perfectly normal conversation and you have o stop, for what seems like forever, to find the word you are looking for. And to confound matters, the word is usually something simple, an ordinary verb, a common noun, a person’s name. People that know me well are so used to it that they have at times become accustomed to finishing sentences for me

Next there is the changes in depth perception. Personally, I find this to be extremely annoying. Some people with Parkinson’s have difficulty judging distances when reaching for objects, knocking over beverages at dinner because they looked farther away than what they really were. For me, I have problems going down stairs. I need good light in the stairway, and even then I will often stop at the top of the stairway and stare downward for what seems like an eternity, trying to judge the distance from one step to the next. And if the stairs are carpeted with a busy print pattern – forget it. I will cling to the railing for dear life with every step I take. Print rugs are an especially confounding thing for me. The patterns seem to jump out of the wrong, giving things an almost 3-D effect.

I could go on listing the unseen symptoms of Parkinson’s, but I think you get the idea.

Yet that is not what makes me feel invisible.

What makes me feel unseen are the parts of me that seemingly no longer exist because of PD.

Intrinsic parts of my life, things that mean so much to me that they define my personality, but because of limitations that Parkinson’s has put on my ability and agility, I can no longer do them.

For example, I am first and foremost a musician. Or at least I used to be. Piano was my forte (pun intended), and even though I still play, I do not play up to my own expectations. I used to be good…really good…scholarships to Chautauqua Institution in my teenage years good. Now, despite what my friends and family say, I am mediocre at best. The same goes for my guitar playing. Oh, I still play. I just don’t play as often, or as long.

Next is my artwork. I used to draw and pant fairly well. Nothing professional, but still pretty good. Now, I just don’t have the dexterity. Especially during the “off times” when the medications aren’t working as well as they should.

But perhaps what I miss the most is my motorcycle. I love to ride. I was born to ride. I no longer ride. I just don’t have the balance. I probably would be okay for a little while, but Parkinson’s has greatly affecting my balance. Where most people, if the start to lose their balance, they can easily recover. When I start to lose my balance, even a little bit, I am pretty much a goner. And since “road rash”, or worse yet, “road kill” are not on my list of things I want to do today, or any other day, I don’t ride.

Then there are house repairs. There are certain things around my house that need to be done. Things I normally wouldn’t have thought twice about doing myself – outside repairs on my house that involve using a ladder to reach the 2nd and 3rd stories. And since using a ladder requires a certain amount of balance and/or coordination, along with a modicum of depth perception thrown in, those things will go undone until I hire someone else to do them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not writing this to get an “oh, boo-hoo” response. I do not want pity from anyone. I am writing this so that the next time you look at someone with Parkinson’s, or any other disease, perhaps, just perhaps you will look past what you see, and recognize the invisible man living within.

I still play the piano and guitar, and will continue to do so until the last breath has left my body.

I am still an artist, I’ve just changed my focus from drawing and painting to woodworking.

As for the motorcycle…well what can I say. Ask anyone that has ever ridden. Once a biker, always a biker. I still have my motorcycle license, and once I can afford a “trike” or a Spyder, I will be back on the road. Until then, I have an Irish blessing for my biker friends –  May you always ride in blue skies and sunshine. But if you can’t do that…may you still always ride.


Posted by: PD Warrior | April 5, 2016

The First Time

I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease 12 years ago. It seems a lot longer than that, but no, it was 12 years ago. That’s not, however, when it all began.

I started noticing the symptoms at least a year prior to being diagnosed, more if you count the non-motor symptoms of the disease that I didn’t even realize were part of PD until after I was officially diagnosed.

The first thing I noticed was this annoying little twitch in my thumb when I was warming up at the piano, getting ready to accompany my church choir for a performance of a contata. It wasn’t there all the time to begin with. It would just appear here and there, kind of like a nervous little twitch. Which for some people might have made sense, but for me made no sense at all. At least the “nervous” part didn’t. Playing the piano in front of people has never made me nervous – truth be known, I lived for playing in front of people. So this stupid little twitch was mind boggling. Luckily it stopped right before I had to play, so I thought nothing more of it.

Until a day or two later when it reappeared, and lasted a few hours longer…

And the day after that, when it lasted longer still.

Then the next day, and the next one…

Until eventually the annoying little twitch decided to take up permanent residence.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. Well, that’s not quite true. I’m an RN, and I had my suspicions, but I didn’t want to face that possibility, so I pretended not to know what to make of it. Being stubborn (and more than a little stupid when it comes to taking care of myself) I avoided going to the doctor about it until it got to the point where I really couldn’t ignore it any more. By that time I had started to notice my left foot shuffling at times when I walked, but since that wasn’t obvious to others at the time, I decided to keep that part of it hidden. Couldn’t hide the twitching thumb anymore, because it had spread to other fingers, and at times my entire left hand. Thankfully it wasn’t effecting my right hand yet.

After a while I had to break down and tell the doctor about it, and he promptly sent me to a neurologist who said it was all in my head. After all, I was too young to have Parkinson’s, despite the fact that it looked like PD, walked like PD, and by that time my arms had started to not swing when I walked.

I went through a year of testing; bloodwork, cat scans, MRI’s, and a PET scan, only to have that particular neurologist continue to claim that it was all in my head. When I explains that I was a nurse, and wondered about Parkinson’s, he more or less told me I was crazy and continued to say I was too young. Instead he tried me on a medication that they give people with familial tremors [familial tremors and PD are two very distinctly different things]. That medication gave me violent mood swings, and didn’t help any of my symptoms. And when I brought that up to him, he told me I should keep taking the medication and “just be aware that things like that might happen.”

I said nuts to that, and found a new neurologist. One that actually knew what he was talking about. He looked at all my test results, spent over an hour examining me, and almost another hour talking with my wife and I about what was going on, my options, and what to expect in the future. He started me on a low dose of sinemet, and that, as they say, was that. The tremors came under control. I didn’t shuffle as much when I walked, and my arms…well they still hung unmoving at my side when I walked, but hey, it was better than nothing.

That was 12 very long years ago.

I have gone from taking one small pill a day to taking three and a half different pills every three hours while awake. My tremors, while they aren’t 100% under control any more, they still aren’t so bad that I can’t stand it. My feet shuffle a little more than they used to, and I have developed an uncanny knack for tripping over lines in the floor when I least expect it, but hey, that’s okay – I am living proof that “bumbles bounce.”

There are other issues that I have, other symptoms caused by the Parkinson’s, but they are items to be discussed at a later date.

Parkinson’s has caused me to change a lot of things in my life, including my position at work. Physically I am no longer able to be a floor nurse – it was too exhausting. And luckily the facility where I work had a desk job for me.

All in all, life is good. Not because of PD, but despite of it. Like I have always said…I am too stubborn to quit, and too stupid to know when I’ve been beaten.

And oh, by the way – on the bright side, Parkinson’s has really improved my golf game – I still suck at it, but at least now I have something to blame it on!

Posted by: PD Warrior | April 2, 2016

I’m All Too Aware…

April is Parkinson’s disease awareness month.

That is, it’s Parkinson’s disease awareness month for the rest of the world. For those of us with Parkinson’s, for those of us that have family members with Parkinson’s, for those of us that are care givers for people with Parkinson’s, every day is Parkinson’s awareness month.

We can’t help but be aware.

We are reminded of it constantly.

Personally, I am reminded of it every three hours from the time I wake up, until the time I go to bed. That’s how often my alarm goes off on my phone, telling me it is time to take my pills. Even on the good days when the pills are doing their job, my tremors are under control, and I’m not tripping over my own two feet, the alarm clock reminds me.

And that’s ok. It’s easier to shut off the alarm and take my pills than it is to ignore the alarm and let my body remind. Because once the pills wear off, it isn’t pretty. Comical at times, yes. But pretty? No.

Sometimes my body reminds me I have PD even before the alarm clock does. Sometimes the pills wear off early. And sometimes they just don’t just kick fully in.

But enough about me. You see, I’m not the only person suffering from the disease. Their are millions of others that suffer from it too, and I’m not just talking about the people with the disease. As I mentioned above – people who have family members with the disease, people who have loved ones with the disease, people who care for those of us with the disease suffer from it to.

My wife, God bless her, has been with me through thick and thin since this wild journey began 12 yeas ago. She has helped me beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. She has been with me for my appointments. She has held my hand when I was afraid. She has been my shoulder to lean on. She has endured my moodiness, my fits, my tantrums, my stubborn streaks. She has laughed with me, and she has cried with me. But the one thing she has never done…she has never once let me feel like I was in this alone.

Yes, April is Parkinson’s awareness month…for the rest of the world. But for some of us, every day is Parkinson’s awareness month.


Posted by: PD Warrior | March 25, 2016

The Carpenter


The Carpenter

The carpenter looks about silently,

Reflecting on all the work done by his hands

A hint of tears in his eyes

The finishing touch to his finest work

About to be complete

Sweat stings his face in the morning sun

His muscles tighten in preparation

For the placement of one last nail

His work; a labor of love from the beginning

To the end

The hammer swings

Tentatively at first

As if questioning the judgment of this act

Then suddenly drives the nail home

With a sense of finality

Hewn abruptly from the earth

Coarse wood, once gnarled and splintered

Now stands transformed by the carpenter

Into beauty beyond compare as the last tear falls

From the cross on the hill

Just a little something I wrote 5 or 6 years ago. Thought I’d dust it off and share it again… hope you all have a blessed Easter!

Posted by: PD Warrior | March 16, 2016

Thanks For The Smile

To understand this story, you need to understand a few things about my mother.

First of all, she loved crossword puzzles, a trait that I inherited from her. We used to race for the newspaper to see who could get the daily crossword first. Sometimes I would beat her to it and finish the puzzle first, then as a joke fold the paper back up as if I hadn’t gotten to it yet. Other times she did the exact same thing to me.

The next thing you need to know is that my mother had a nickname. At least in my church she did.

It all started several years back. I was the pianist for my church choir, and my wife was the choir director. Every year we put on Easter, and Christmas Contatas. The problem was, it was too difficult to play the piano, and turn the pages in the middle of all the songs. Either I would turn too many pages at once, or I would knock the entire book off the piano…or both.

Enter my mother. She could read music, she loved to hear me play, and she wanted to help. Problem solved- she could turn the pages for me during the performances.

So, the first time I wheeled her into the church in her wheel chair, the pastor came up to me and asked me who she was. I told him she was my page turner. He misunderstood me, and thought I said her name was “Page Turner.” It took him a couple days to realize that wasn’t her real name, while at the same time, it took us a couple days to realize he thought it really was. After we all got done laughing, the name stuck, and from that point forward she was known to everyone in the church as “Page…Page Turner.”

The final thing you need to understand about this story is that today is the 1st anniversary of my mother’s passing.

So, there I was, doing today’s edition of the NY Times crossword puzzle, reminiscing, planning on having a perfectly melancholy day, when I came to question 27 down: Book you can’t put down?

The answer? You got it…”Page Turner.”

Thanks for the smile, mom!


Posted by: PD Warrior | March 6, 2016

Nothing Left To Do But Laugh…

If I really wanted to get rich quick, all I would have to do is hire someone to follow me around with a video camera for a day, and send the results on to America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Here is an example of a typical morning:

The alarm goes off and my eyes slowly open while my brain tries to figure out what to do next. Oh, I know I need to get out of bed, but the issue is how to achieve such a feat first thing in the morning, before taking my Parkinson’s pills. If I’m lying on my side, or on my stomach, no big deal; a couple pushes with my arms and I will find myself in a sitting position on the side of my bed. If, however, I find myself lying on my back…let’s just say “welcome to the circus, step right up and enjoy the show.”

Getting myself up into a sitting position while lying on my back is a multi step process. A turtle on it’s back could probably right itself easier.

Step 1: Cuss. I’ve tried it a million times without cussing, and trust me, nothing works. The process must begin with a good cuss. And it must be done silently…no need to disturb my wife, and the last thing I want to do is alert the cats or the dog to the fact that I am awake. If the cats learn that I am no longer asleep and not yet moving, they will begin their own “hey, I’m starving and you haven’t fed me in years” routine. Which for two of them means sitting on my head, face, or chest and howling at me because we all know that suffocating me will make me move faster. For the third cat it means “bulldozing me with his head,” which while in theory would probably work – he doesn’t have nearly the amount of strength required to un-beach this whale. And as for the dog, there is something instinctual, hard wired in to her that requires her to jump from the floor, directly onto my stomach, knocking the wind right out of me there very second she even thinks I have begun to stir.

Step 2: Attempt to do a “sit up” the normal way. I know it isn’t going to work, but like the dog, I too have instincts that are hard wired in and can not be ignored, even though I know the attempt will be futile:

Step 3: repeat step 1, this time a little louder and prepare for the onslaught of the animals.

Step 4: The “reverse sit-up.” This, in and of itself, is an acrobatic feat. It’s where I scoot myself over to the side of the bed, and raise one of my legs straight up into the air, kinking my toes skyward as if I was one of the Rockettes practicing a routine while lying on the floor, and then quickly swinging the same leg over the side of the bed, allowing the natural stiffness of my muscles to propel myself into a sitting position. This step is also usually repeated sever times in quick succession to achieve the amount of momentum required to actually achieve the sitting position.

Step 5: Repeat step 1, even louder yet, because now all the animals that were catapulted off the bed during step 4 have decided to kill me and are attempting to do so by running back and forth in front of me and between my legs in an effort to trip me as I make my way slowly to the bathroom.

Step 6: Do the PD shuffle – my favorite dance step – until the morning meds kick in, it is the only way to make it from point A to point B. In my mind I am so happy that I am putting one foot in front of the other that I envision myself looking like John Travolta strutting down the street to the sounds of the Bee Gees, when in reality I probably look more like Fred Flintstone stumbling  down the hallway to the sound of “Uptown Funk.” Oh well, at least the song is cool…

Now to get the pill bottles open without scattering the pills all across the room…[sigh] where is the camera when I need it?

Posted by: PD Warrior | March 1, 2016

Once Upon A Time, Not So Long Ago…

Or at least it didn’t seem that long ago to me.

Like everyone, my mind is subject to the very tricks it plays on itself. I can be going on about life, minding my own business, when something will come along and hit me – a fleeting image caught in the corner of my eye, a familiar odor from days gone past, or a sound…especially a sound…songs in particular – and suddenly a spark will go off in some long forgotten corner of my brain. Then, the next thing you know – poof – as if by magic, I will have found myself transported back in time.

Such was the case just a few days ago when my wife and I were driving along, listening to an oldies station (I’m not really sure when the songs that comprise the soundtrack of my life suddenly became oldies, but I guess that’s not important right now) and suddenly I was no longer driving.

No, I was not driving at all.

Instead I was only 10, maybe 12 years old, and lying down in the back of my parents old Ford LTD station wagon. It was late on a cloudless summer night and I was gazing at the stars through the rear window as they drifted slowly past, and the AM radio crackled with the sound of a banjo plunking out chords while the Stampeders crooned the words to the song “Sweet City Woman.”

We were on our way home from an old ice cream shack somewhere just outside of Bear Lake PA, a journey we would take at least once a week during July and August after my dad had finished working in his gardens and closed up his flower shop for the night.

The car didn’t have air conditioning, or if it did my father wouldn’t turn it on because he claimed there was always a “cold spot right there on the back of my neck!” So, instead, the station wagon’s rear window was down to keep the rest of us from suffocating in the stifling heat as my father froze. The memory was so intense I could almost smell the exhaust from the car filtering in through the open window. And I could taste the sticky sweetness of ice-cream that had dribbled down on my chin from the cone I had eaten just moments before.

But the sweetest part of the whole reverie was not the music, nor the ice cream, or the ride…

No, the sweetest part was that both my parents were still alive.

You see, my father has been gone for over fourteen years. And in a couple weeks it will mark the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing. But just for a moment, if ever so briefly, I had them both back…


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