Filipinos and Why I Bother to Write About My “Degenerative Neurologic Disease”

I am a doctor with young-onset Parkinson’s disease. After my diagnosis 5 years ago at age 44 my life changed but my neurologist told me two things that stuck: “keep moving, ” and, “make hay while the sun still shines.” The first was a nod to exercise and to stay involved in life, and the second, “do it now.” First I explored Asia, did a lot of writing and then, took an assignment from a US research firm in the Philippines. I spent two years there and learned a great deal about being happy. Filipinos were designated by a study in the British journal “The Economist” as the second happiest culture in the world. I took notice.These were relatively poor people but each took a great deal of pride in whatever capacity they served whether it be in a job or as a family member. This was a place where maids (“ya-ya’s”) and fast food workers were no less happy, pleasant, or proud; and each treated their functions with no less importance than that of real estate tycoons and high level government officials. I met all of these and came back feeling that it was essential if I were to “keep moving” to rework my own purpose. I could no longer execute medical procedures with a slow unsteady right hand, and daytime sleepiness made a call schedule next to impossible. I needed to serve in some new capacity that stirred enough tireless passion to get me out of an indulgent sleepy malaise and back into life.I had done a great deal of writing for my research and in logging my experiences during the time in the Philippines and at the suggestion of a close friend, a pediatrician who was enjoying my emails that chronicled my often insane time there, began writing about Parkinson’s. Thus emerged my new mission and purpose: to utilize a love for writing and combine it with my medical knowledge.I started to research and write and distill all the random information out there into a structure that I hoped would really educate people facing Parkinson either themselves, via a family member, or as a caregiver. That source needed to be constructed with good information easily digestible by anyone.As part of that structure I wanted to create an online community of sharing. Thus Dopadoc’s Parkinson’s Journal has become a major focus. In it’s rather short life I have asked almost every day, “How can I make it better, more interesting, more useful, and more interactive?Regarding covering the actual field of Parkinson’s disease, I dove head first into finding out what works, what might work, what’s just plain Vodoo, what to expect, and how you and your loved ones can deal best with this condition. I want to share this knowledge with you and learn as much as I can from your input. I invite participation from, patients, doctors, family members, friends, researchers and anyone just interested in this condition and in finding better treatments and even a cure someday.And guess what? Like the Filipino “ya-ya” maid or the owner of Philippine Air, I have found a worthy purpose for now and can say that despite everything, I feel blessed and happy!

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