This I Believe

Elena - Freehold, New Jersey
Entered on September 14, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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Parkinson Disease and motherhood

Fall 2004

I cannot imagine what life would be like if I didnt have any children. I decided to have a child two years after being diagnosed with Parkinson. I was only 27 years old. Parkinson’s robbed part of my life, but my children were the other part and made life worth living for.

The love children offer is so tender, innocent and pure. Although Parkinson was causing me great distress, I had learned to convert the feeling of defeat as an energy fuel and grow even stronger. I knew that being divorced, raising three children and at the same time have a chronic illness, was a daily challenge I had to face. When you have Parkinson you have toendure, survive, and thrive for today so you can be ready for tomorrow; otherwise, you could go insane.

As I had more downs than ups, more offs than on; my children were always at my side. The only image they had of me was shaking (tremors,) kicking (restless legs,) and moving uncontrollably (dyskenesia). These symptoms are typical of Parkinson disease. All throughout their young life they grew up seeing me ill, to them it was normal to sweat, to fall, to roll and even to drool as much as I used to.

I recall when my two little girls helped me to walk by holding me with their little hands, side by side; as they initiated the first steps, we sang the song “We’re off to see the Wizard” from the movie The Wizard of Oz. Hearing them sing in harmony would help me coordinate my steps and off we went around the block.

As they grew older my girls began to notice that I was different because their teachers, friend’s mothers, and the neighbor did not move as much as I did. Regardless, they respected, treated and loved me the way I was and I am grateful to them for their unconditional love.

My children have grown.

My eldest daughter, Gisselle (27) has been married to Gustavo Alarcon, graduated from John Jay Criminal Justice College, made a grandmother with a the new love of my life named Justin, my little spiderman. Their ultimate accomplishment is that they are home owners.

Tiffany (19) and Vanessa (18) are both tatoo-free young ladies attending College. It wasn’t that easy; when they became teenagers I thought they are possessed. They were no longer huggable as they were when they were younger. They used to blame all their frustration to PMS’ing. They seem to be bitter at the world. My mother, Clara who has always giving me her support, tells me that their behavior is typical of any teenager, but I am still looking for an exorcist.

It has been over five years-June 24, 2003-since I had the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) at RWJUH overseen by doctor Annette Nieves. Since then, I had regained my speech, mobility and walking. I am now able to ride my bike, hear the music and dance, watch and hear the ocean sing and dance while making waves, walk barefooted on the sand and run and chase my teenagers around, whenever necessary.

My children are getting to know me without the Parkinson symptoms. They are double impressed by my new hobby: painting. When they invite their friends over, they show my paintings and with an elated voice they introduce me “My mother is an artist.”

I have regained my dignity.

I have to thank my mother for her ethics she instilled in me; my beautiful sister, Evelyn, whom took her time to entertain me when I needed to be, to my brothers, Carlos and Walter for their love and support.

Many thanks to my children, Tiffany and Vanessa for helping me endured 15 years of battle with Parkinson’s disease with smiles, tears, happiness, hardships, struggles but among all love.

Furthermore, I have to thank God, the Almighty. for hearing my prayers and giving me back a life.

My duty now is to help raise funds and awareness so that one day the cure for Parkinson is found. To know that there will be an end to this horrible illness. To help people come out of darkness and see the daylight are my main struggle.

To my children, my sculptures, my love and pride Gisselle, Tiffany and Vanessa, life will make you into my masterpiece.