Moving Day Chicago - Virtual Walk

T (Todd's Team)

Thank you for visiting our team site. I am Todd, the namesake of this team. I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease (YOPD) in late October 2012. At the time I was 31, about half the age of most Parkinson's patients.While less common (YOPD effects 10% of all PD patients), Parkinson's can effect young people, as I've found out first hand. YOPD typically progresses slower than PD in an older patient, but it also presents different challenges as somebody with YOPD still has to juggle a job, family, etc. along with the disease.

Parkinson's is a progressive neurological disorder resulting from the loss of dopamine-generating cells. While it affects people in many different ways, common symptoms include shaking, rigidity, and slowness of movement. For me, rigidity and slowness are the primary symptoms. I also have tremors occasionally and cramping in my toes which can make it hard to walk. I am currently up to 18 doses of medicine a day which is pretty typical of somebody with Parkinson’s. I am fortunate to have a job with good health insurance as the out-of pocket cost of my medication is in excess of $30,000 annually.

In addition to medication, I have found that exercise helps me a great deal and is something I can control. I typically wake up at 5 am during the week and at the very least stretch for 15 minutes, as well as exercise 4-5 times a week. Every week I meet with a personal trainer who specializes in neurological diseases to keep me motivated, and learn new exercises I can do on my own. Also, before the pandemic I was in a boxing class specific to people with Parkinson’s. Boxing (the non-contact version) provides a lot of benefits to people with Parkinson’s as there is a lot of coordination and timing involved. I have a punching bag in my basement which has allowed me keep boxing during the pandemic.

My life has changed a lot since I was diagnosed. I am now married, with 3 kids aged 5 and under. They ask questions about the dopamine patch I wear on my arm, but for the most part seem oblivious to the fact that I have Parkinson’s. They like to stretch and exercise with me, and recently we’ve been doing yoga together. My wife Lori Ann provides an incredible amount of support, and offers to do tasks she knows are difficult for me because of PD. She’s always willing to step in and take over when I have difficulty changing a diaper, or getting our one-year old dressed when she gets squirmy.

The world has changed dramatically this year with the pandemic. I don’t consider myself to be at a greater risk than anybody else if I were to get coronavirus, however, that is probably me being naive. Parkinson’s underlies everything related to my health and life in general. I think that the persistence and uncertainty of the disease is the hardest thing to explain to those that don’t have PD. I don’t spend, nor do I have, much time to think about what my future with Parkinson’s looks like. However, there are constant reminders of it’s impact every day, whether it be popping pills, or a tremor. It is highly likely I will have Parkinson’s for over half of my life which can be overwhelming to think about. Without a cure I don’t have the possibility to get better. I just need to keep fighting and slow down Parkinson’s impact until there is one.

That is where you come in. There are many more people like myself who have PD and need the support of organizations like the Parkinson’s Foundation. I encourage you to join our team (it's virtual this year!) and offer any support you can. Over the past six years we have raised over $60,000 which is a great testament to the generosity of our friends and family. Without a cure, the challenges of Parkinson’s will continue to exist. I am hopeful that with your donation more people will get the support and resources they need now, and one day soon we will find a cure.

With Gratitude and Thanks,

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Moving Day Chicago - Virtual Walk

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