Parkinson’s Awareness Month: Celebrating What We Can Do Today

By Dr. Sanjay Iyer, Memory & Movement Charlotte’s Medical Director

Our Founding Physician, Dr. Charles Edwards II, often counsels, “It’s too easy to mourn the losses.  We have to celebrate what we can still do today.”  That powerful message is echoed by many of my patients whose spirits shine through their art, music, crafts and other special talents.  A former professional athlete and now a PD patient of mine never would have realized his oil painting skills until he couldn’t run anymore.  During Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April, I want to share some of the amazing things my patients do.

Wendy & Roy’s Kazoo Concerts

We sadly lost Wendy a few months ago.  Her husband Roy recently wrote me, “Shortly before Wendy and I got engaged over half a century ago, her father asked me why I wanted to marry his daughter. I replied, ‘because she’s one in a million’.  All these years later I have no doubt that was a drastic understatement. Wendy was someone who put her all into every activity.  Even towards the end, when everything was an enormous challenge, she would spend hours sewing little gifts for our grandchildren – pillows for Ethan and headbands for Lilah (and her friends). She would never miss a Rock Steady Boxing class and, despite her own issues, she would keep the class in stitches, enabling them all to push through the exercises, which were challenging both for the PD patients and their caregivers. When friends introduced us to the kazoo, no birthday could go by without a rendition. We even gave drive by performances during Covid. These examples, while illustrative, don’t even begin to capture Wendy’s full spirit. My family and I miss her terribly, but we’re comforted by a seemingly unlimited number of stories and memories.” 

Ranjan’s Natural Crafts

Ranjan is sometimes discouraged because she cannot go for long walks like she used to enjoy.  Her eyes lit up during a recent visit when she showed me pictures of her handiwork.  My personal favorite is the “cabbage patch” puppies! 

Scott’s Cymbal Extravaganza

Scott, an architect, says, “I like getting my word out that if you have any desire to learn or already know an instrument, get it out, start playing and come alive. For me it makes PD be pushed off to the corner and for the moment you’re free from the disease.”  Check out his cymbal extravaganza about 7 min 30 seconds into the video.  Rock on, Scott!!! 

Roger’s Piano Stylings

Roger, a retired dentist, writes, “Music makes my heart dance even when my feet cannot.”  Look at him go!!! 

Ken’s Rocking Tunes

Ken is my friend, a brilliant neurologist, trivia buff and now patient.  He’s the first person I call when I have a case that’s hard to diagnose.  Now he’s also on my Favorite’s Playlist.  Next stop Motown!!! 

Marty’s Cinematic Homage

Last but definitely not least, Marty used to captain a fishing boat in the North Atlantic.  He now enjoys power walks and making videos.  Can’t wait to see the sequel, Champ! 

Maya Angelou once said, “I can be changed by what happens to me.  But I refuse to be reduced by it.”  Thank you to everyone above for sharing your special talent during PD Awareness Month.  Your “cup half full” perspective inspires all of us while we celebrate your victories.

Dr. Iyer