Briefly describe your journey since diagnosis:
I remember the day my right pinkie finger started to twitch. It was unusual for me, but small, so I ignored it. A year later when my finger (and now my hand) had a tremor, I sought a diagnosis. I was referred to a movement disorders specialist in Seattle. I remember being given the “standard exam.” I truly felt I was able to do everything they asked. I’ll never forget when the doctor said, “The exam is over. You have Parkinson’s disease and you need to start taking X, Y, and Z medicines.” I burst into tears and the doctor said, “Are you ok?” and I said, “No.” I was in shock and disbelief. I left the doctor’s office and wandered around Seattle for the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself. Truth be told, I felt sorry for myself for a couple of months and normally I am a very optimistic person. I just didn’t know how to tackle this new challenge.
My naturopath was the first one to tell me about Rock Steady Boxing. I investigated it and was excited. The problem was, no one in Juneau offered this class. So a friend of mine, who also has Parkinson’s, decided to take the initiative. We found a local trainer who said that if we could raise funds to send him for training, he would offer the class. We immediately set up a “Go Fund Me” site and within less than week, we had met our goal. The rest is history. Rock Steady Boxing classes officially started in Juneau in November 2016 and I am a regular participant ever since. The class keeps me physically active and gives me hope.
How do you live well each day?
I eat well and I exercise. I volunteer in the community and essentially try to live the same life I did before diagnosis. While I am not happy about having Parkinson’s, I am determined to live a good life and be as happy as I can in spite of it.
What do you wish you would have known when you were diagnosed that you know now about living with Parkinson’s?
I wish I knew that each person progresses differently and that taking care of yourself can help preserve functionality. No one knows what the future holds, so I try to stay positive. One of my favorite sayings is, “A pessimist may be right more often, but an optimist has more friends and more fun.”
Kerry Howard’s Philosophy
What do you wish everyone living with Parkinson’s knew about living well?
I wish everyone knew that in spite of having a disease of uncertainty, you can live one day at a time with optimism for the future. As Davis Phinney says, “Every victory counts!”
Share Your Victory
Each month, we spotlight someone from our Parkinson’s community who embodies living well today – what we call Moments of Victory®.
Your story, like Kerry’s, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences and victories.