Living Well with Parkinsons Disease

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

There’s always something new to learn

By Sheryl Jedlinski

Having participated in educational programs related to Parkinson’s disease for more than 20 years, I sometimes start thinking there is nothing new to learn, and that I have heard it all before. Attending last weekend’s Chicago forum for the Parkinson’s Foundation’s, “Women and PD TALK” initiative, proved me wrong. Not only did I learn many things about gender differences in Parkinson’s research and care, I also walked away with several ideas I could immediately apply to improve my quality of life.

The first idea I am exploring is an individualized physical therapy program to correct pelvic dysfunction and relieve urinary incontinence. I used the online Find a PT tool, built by the American Physical Therapy Association, to locate therapists in my geographic area who are experienced in treating women’s health issues. Watch for my follow-up report.

Afternoon break-out sessions focused on discussing the experiences, needs, and challenges faced by women with Parkinson’s in order to improve outcomes. We have much to learn from each other.

Kelly Weinschreider, of the Parkinson’s Foundation, opened the conference by reading what she described as her “favorite Parkinson’s quote of all time,” and one she uses with all of her support groups. Then she proceeded to read a page from my book, Parkinson’s? You’re kidding me right? One woman’s unshakeable belief in overcoming a shaky diagnosis

It seems a lifetime ago when I arrived on the Parkinson’s scene fearful of what the future held for me, and hungry for whatever knowledge, coping strategies, and experiences others were willing to share. At some point, when I wasn’t looking, I became an “old timer,” teaching newbies, as others had taught me, to face this degenerative neurological disease with courage, grace, and honesty.

My office walls are lined with photographs of family, friends, doctors, and therapists who have helped me live well with Parkinson’s disease. It takes a village to do this, and these are just some of my “village people …”

Instead of allowing Parkinson’s to limit what we can do, we find a collective purpose for our lives. Accomplishing what we think we cannot do, renews our strength and gives us the courage to keep fighting

Hearing a stranger read my words to inspire others to act, brought tears to my eyes. Then she pointed to me, and told the audience the author is with us today. She introduced and thanked me for all I do for the Parkinson’s community.

Each of us can change a life by attending PD functions, encouraging and supporting one another’s efforts and sharing words that ignite energy, enthusiasm, and hope.

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Read more of Sheryl’s humorous stories and helpful tips at

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