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It began with a twitching in the left pinkie finger while sitting at my desk, which I rationalized as probably caused by stress from working long hours. During a weekend visit with my daughter Stacey, she asked if I had too much caffeine as she noticed my left hand shaking. Of course I said not to worry, may have been too much morning coffee. But, I started to become concerned, as the tremor started to become more evident. During a scheduled annual physical, I mentioned the tremor to the physician, and he said the word Parkinson’s, I was shocked but not familiar with this disease. He recommended a neurologist visit to confirm his initial diagnosis.

I was officially diagnosed in December 2005, Merry Christmas! As I told family and friends, they were certainly surprised and upset, but very supportive. I will always give my wife Beverly so much credit for her loving and caring encouragement. I had just started my dream home inspection business a few months earlier, a decision had to be made, continue working or not. We decided to continue as long as possible, trying to maintain a normal lifestyle. The business began to grow at a rapid pace. The Parkinson’s effects were controlled with medication, very few people noticed any tremor issues.

In 2009, Stacey told me of an idea to raise funding for Parkinson’s research, Promises for Parkinson’s, based on my love of hiking. Stacey had traveled with me on a Colorado River rafting trip that included a hike out of the Grand Canyon. Hike the Park for Parkinson’s, at Oregon Ridge Park in Hunt Valley began in September 2010. This year on September 6th we celebrate the 5th anniversary of this wonderful event. Thanks to family and friends volunteering their time and providing generous donations, almost $50,000 has been given to the University of Maryland Parkinson’s Movement Disorder Center. It is difficult to express enough gratitude for my daughter Stacey, she has invested many hours toward the goal of finding a cure, even when her family was experiencing a very serious medical issue.

As time has passed since the initial diagnosis, the disease symptoms have progressed. My new career was ended in 2011 as my neurologist strongly recommended discontinuing the inspection business due to balance concerns. Typical Parkinson’s issues have increased, more “off time”, slow movement periods, weakening speech and insufficient sleep. Each day with Parkinson’s is different, I never know when my “off times” will occur during the day, I do know that the disease will control my motor functions at least one period of time each day. However, I feel very fortunate to still have the physical capabilities to continue with most of my favorite activities, they may just take a little longer to complete. I am also very aware that some other Parkinson’s patients truly struggle to function every day. This progressive disease affects each individual differently, think about more than 5 million people worldwide dealing with the varying effects of Parkinson’s.

I think about the future, which is clouded with the unknown Parkinson’s progression. As mentioned earlier, I am extremely fortunate to have tremendous loving support from family and friends, the future is brighter because I know the support will always be there. Setting goals helps to lessen the uncertainty of the future years; watching my grandsons grow into strong young men, taking more time to enjoy life with my beautiful wife, family and friends. Continue fund raising in an effort to find a Parkinson’s cure for future generations. Enjoy life each day as much as possible.

My thoughts on living with Parkinson’s disease,

John Evans