Just like Mike: By Maria De Leon

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I want to be like you, talk like you, walk like you…” Disney’s The Jungle Book

As we enter the Memorial weekend I was thinking of all whom have sacrificed for us to continue to have the freedom and liberties we all enjoy in this country…I salute all our military men and women as well as their families for their selfless contributions.

But then there are other types of heroes who have done so much to protect our dignity while living with a chronic illness like Parkinson’s disease that they too deserve our gratitude and admiration.

One of these lovable characters who has stolen our hearts from a young age, is none other than your friend and mine Michael J Fox. He has become the embodiment of PD especially for those of us with young onset.

Seems like ever since I was in medical school training to be a neurologists he has been a constant in my life. I recall when we first heard of his diagnosis and speculated about the cause since he was so young and till then this illness was not associated with young people – at least not as an idiopathic disease.

Then when I was a fellow we at BCM did various gala’s to raise funds for PD.  Mike was the guest of honor  for one of these events. he had already published his first book and everyone including me was so looking forward to meeting him. and getting my book autographed.  But, alas this was not meant to be. he had severe dyskinesia’s by then and was having a difficult time, my heart went out to him. however, one of his managers promised me to get my book autographed but I never got back. (a bit disappointing). yet, Michael appeared live via satellite and did in fact speak to us and despite his severe uncontrolled movements he was as charming and personable as always. Little did I know then that we would share so much more in common both off us developing the illness about the same age.  Twenty years later I would finally get the chance to meet him in person and thank him for his contribution and his eternal optimism. nor did I realize I would get a chance to be part of his foundation as an ambassador for public policy issues.

Recently, he was featured in the cover of AARP magazine , an honor he greatly deserves. As I read this, I realize we share the same philosophy of life in dealing with this devastating illness. I, too, agree that top and foremost importance is to have “optimism” which I call faith- knowing things will look up and work out for the better if you just hold on long enough. This has served him well as he continues to thrive despite nearly 3 decades of PD. I, too, feel this is one of the many reasons along with ability to laugh at my self and my circumstances that I continue to enjoy my life despite living with PD. He also finds a good dose of humor to be just as important as any medication prescribed by a physician.

Finally, besides family, love and giving others what you need in your life is keeping busy mentally and physically that make a world of difference in maintaining a positive outlook on life whether you have an illness or not.

Thus, I urge anyone living with PD or any other chronic illness to be more like Mike and enjoy life to the fullest.

Happy Memorial Weekend everyone!

Copyright-2017

All rights reserved- Maria De Leon MD

 

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A Parkinson’s Diva Mother’s Day: Maria De Leon

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This statement I think can sum all of us mother’s up especially those of us who are burdened with life’s challenges and illnesses. of course being a “diva” I have to do everything BIG. This means two mother’s day celebrations – well you think it would be awesome but this diva managed to screw up not just one but almost ruin the second one.

First, of all if you happen to be of Mexican decent you celebrate the 10th of May as Mother’s Day no matter what! But, this year my sister informed me that she was just going to focus on one day from now on and that would be the second Sunday as it is tradition here in the States. Given the fact that I had been calling mom, reciting poetry, and giving her gifts to celebrate what we know call “Mexican’s Mother’s Day” I felt a bit uneasy but acquiesced for mom’s sake. This way, I thought, avoid some children calling and not others making mom feel bad.  After all this year we had a much bigger celebration in store; since my nephew -first grandchild was graduating college the day before mother’s day and were planning a family gathering to celebrate both.

So morning of Wednesday came – Mexican Mother’s Day and I feel lousy. I had been having cold sweats and chills the night before. Thank goodness I had a follow- up   appointment at the doctor already scheduled. Of course, I wake up discombobulated drenched in sweat and  realize I have but a few minutes to get ready before I head out the door. as I am stumbling in the closet trying to get ready mom come singing all jolly and happy a mother’s day song to me… I look at her and trying not to make a big to do as I had promised my sister, I uttered some words and kept bouncing off the walls trying to finish dressing.  I got some steroid shots and antibiotics after spending all morning at doctor’s office because mycoplasma infection is going around and I was pretty sick. I was beginning to get ill tempered which only worsened with shot of steroids I received then was aggravated by the fact that all of my family including my sister had decided to make a big to do about this particular Mexican Mother’s Day. Naturally, I felt like a heel for being the only one I might add who happened to have mom in her house and not do a thing…so I managed to salvage the day by taking her out to dinner and having a girls night out- Diva style!

Next graduation came – we started celebrating the day before with a visit to the hair salon followed by a night which included awesome food, much laughter, modeling new clothes and roasting the graduate and much teasing for throwing me under the bus. But all was forgiven with my sisters’ delicious red velvet and cream cheese cupcakes which were to die for… even my husband who rarely eats sweets devoured a cupcake in a single bite and liked his lips and fingers and asked for more.

When today came round two of celebrations took place ‘Diva’ style…I have to do everything GRAND! but the biggest gift and source of joy come from still having a mom who is healthy and strong and looks more like my sister than my mom and of course the whole reason I am called mom  is a precious teenage girl who has all of my unconditional love and who told me today that although, she seems not to hear everything I say.. thanks PD! she is always saying I did not speak like I think I did or say something I know I said and even asking me to repeat things over…

YET, ALL the I lOVE YOU’s come in loud and clear! and she is glad to have me as her mom crankiness, PD,  and all…

What else can any mother ask? Nothing but to know that her children are secure in their mom’s love!

Although a bit late, I say Happy Mother’s Day to all the Parkinson’s diva out there who make PD look easy compared to motherhood!

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copyright-2017

all rights reserved – Maria De Leon MD