Email from Vivian Branschofsky


Thank you, John, for responding. I was delighted to see your remarks concerning exercise.  Mine was the first entry, so you have some idea about me.  I believe so much that exercise has kept me in the 'zone' for feeling good and capable of almost everything I could do before PD.
I was around 44 when my husband noticed I was walking strangely, not swinging my right arm and dragging my right foot.  He also commented that I was picking up small items with my left hand and handing them to my right hand.  I went to see a 'hand' doctor about a problem in my left palm and said, "by the way, I seem to be having trouble with fine motor skills with my right hand.."  He had me do a few quick skills, said he believed I had a neurological problem and had an appointment for me the next day at the neurologist.
Parkinsonism was my temporary dx until we went on Himalayan trek we had planned for a year.  I had been having symptoms at this point for three years and he believed a brain tumor was NOT the problem, so he said there would be an MRI when I  got back.  We trekked and, afterward, other illnesses were ruled out.
Long story short, I got into a study at Mass General within a year (we live in Vermont) for something they hoped would slow the progression, and began Mirapex late in the two-year study.
We had a plant nursery and I was doing very physically demanding work and continued for a few years, but I closed the biz 4 years ago.
Throughout this period, I have continued to try to do everything involving sports, preparing firewood, massive gardening, yoga, exercise, whatever.  My friends in the YOPD support group are not as lucky as me, by and large.  They are not as robust (and impatient) as am to get things done and either don't have the time or desire to keep moving and challenging their bodies.  But, I swear, my energy and strength and desire to keep active and live  as I did before, has made all the difference in my condition and conditioning.  I have increased my meds to include Stalevo and  a little sinemet, but I'm tolerating them well and am able to go for two years on average, so far, without increasing dosage.
My husband, of almost 28 years, is 76 years of age (22 yrs difference) and active as well.  We ski and do all the heavy lifting around here together.  We both try very hard to send our message to others, but I know it is hard to become active and get in the exercise mode if one has lead a sedentary life, or has never been an athlete.  Or, if competition is considered a bad word.
I was so heartened (yes, I do sometimes think about my future as much as I try to live in the moment) to read your post.  I confess, I haven't gone down the list and seen all you've written.  My circumstances seem so removed from much of what people have shared.  But, you were so eloquent and encouraging and it made me want to know you better.
Where do you live and do you enjoy other activities along with your walking?  Do you have many at your retirement community who wish you'd just 'go away' or who are trying to follow your example.
Thanks for responding and providing an upbeat, "I'm happy to be alive and living my life" entry.
Vivian Branschofsky