Living Well with Parkinsons Disease

Dancing in the Rain: Lessons Learned on my Personal Journey with PD (more at Copyright 2013-20 Sheryl Jedlinski

Chance encounters offer opportunity to help

Women Talking 3

Helping other people with Parkinson’s make a positive difference in their lives often requires nothing more than being in the right place at the right time, and saying the right thing. I discovered this while “people watching” at the Fort Lauderdale Airport one day last winter. There, walking toward me, with a gait much like mine, was a woman who looked to be 5 – 10 years my senior. I was certain she, too, had PD.

Anita, as she introduced herself, sat down beside me to wait for her daughter’s return from the rental car lot, as I was waiting for my husband’s. With no prompting, she launched into the telling of her medical history. It seems she had been healthy her whole life until the last year when she started to have one mystery medical symptom after another. After seeing countless specialists and undergoing every test imaginable, she told me, she still had no diagnosis. I was tempted to offer my own, but reconsidered, knowing that the “unauthorized practice of medicine” is a criminal offense, with potentially severe penalties.

I asked Anita whether she had seen a Movement Disorders Specialist (MDS), a neurologist who has had additional training in disorders that mainly affect physical movement, such as Parkinson’s.

“Do you think that’s what I have?” Anita asked me, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

“I can’t say; I’m not a doctor,” I told her. “It just seems to me that if you’ve seen every other kind of medical specialist and still have no answers, you might as well complete the circle.”

Upon learning that Anita’s home is in Washington D.C., I suggested she look for an MDS at one of the universities or teaching hospitals in the metro area. Just then, her daughter and my husband came walking towards us. We marveled that our chance encounter was meant to be and wished each other good luck on our individual journeys. Before going our separate ways, my husband and “agent” handed the two women my business cards, should they have any further questions.

Not expecting to hear from Anita again, I was pleasantly surprised to pick up my phone several months later and hear a familiar voice asking if I remembered meeting her at an airport in Florida.

“Yes, of course I remember you,” I said.

“Well, I’m calling to thank you for your advice, and let you know that I found an MDS at Johns Hopkins who diagnosed me with Parkinson’s, and started me on medicine,” she said. “I feel like a new person.”

Her words were the best gift she could have given me. We all want to feel needed, and able to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Perhaps this is especially true for those of us living with a progressive, incurable disease, as we often benefit from the kindness of strangers. 

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

  • Edward Everett Hale




2 comments on “Chance encounters offer opportunity to help

  1. 100wickedwords
    October 17, 2014

    Yes, Sheryl, one person can make all the difference in the world and that person was you in this case! What a great story. Keep spreading the word, Ambassador.

  2. Tem and Larry Williams
    October 17, 2014

    I love the quote at the end of this! and, boy, do you ever follow it to the letter. Today, at swimming I got into a conversaton with a very nice man whose father has Parkinson’s…I told him about your newsletter…could you please add him to your list to receive it: his name is John Dolan and his email is: I am not sure, but from the conversation I think his father goes to the nuerology group that you do…am not really sure, but it kind of sounded like it….very nice man and very concerned about his father…..thank you….tem

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This entry was posted on October 17, 2014 by in Parkinson's symptoms.

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