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My Grandmother has Parkinsons'

A few years ago my family started to notice classic Parkinsons' signs- shuffling gait, stumbling, pill rolling, resting tremor and then mask like expression. My family experienced the initial shock, disbelief, sadness and distress when we realized what we were seeing. This happens to other people not a beautiful, kind, well-educated (triple masters'), college professor, mother, friend and formidable woman. Who decides this happens to others', it happens to us to and it is real...


When I went to visit her last week she was in a hospital in Trivandrum, Kerala, India demonstrating coughing, difficulty swallowing and the serious risk I didn't want to admit, aspiration with no end in sight.


As a nurse practitioner specialized in geriatrics this had been an all to familiar experience. I have had initial conversations of "doc I just feel weak, something doesn't seem right", to ordering tests with strong suspicion that I don't need a test to declare what I was seeing. I've broken bad news, sat in silence, prescribed medications and referred to neurology for peace of mind. Through all of this I followed people at all stages of the disease including through the dying process. When I heard my grandmother was in the hospital I had one thought, I need to be there. I wanted to resist every feeling but I knew we were going to hope for the best and expect the worst as I've done countless other times. The most terrifying thought was grapling with feeding tube or no feeding tube....UUUGH, oh NO!

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