My name is Karen, and I have Parkinson's disease. I am 45 years old, and I have been out of the work force since I was 35 years old.
I asked my neurologist if he could give me an idea of when I could be well enough to go back to work. He got this look of compassion on his face and told me that I most likely would not be returning to work.
That was a blow, to think that my teaching career was over. I didn't really feel that teaching was the right career for me, but I had also been working in the school library, and I very much enjoyed that. With both of my children in school now, I had been offered a quarter time position as the library teacher, and it was a dream job for me.
But one of my first symptoms was an inability to make my fingers do what they were supposed to do - so typing, shelving books, even holding a book to turn the pages was getting almost impossible. When I read aloud to students, it felt like my voice was getting stuck in my throat.
It was even getting hard to think! It was like my brain was in Jello. I was having what I now recognize as anxiety attacks, where it felt like the world was closing in on me. Sometimes the floor would jump up and smack me in the face.
I thought I was going insane.