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Parkinson's Disease (PD) is a common, chronic and incurable neurodegenerative disorder of the brain. This disease is characterized by the death of specific brain cells (neurons) in many areas of the brain especially in the base of the brain in a structure called the “substantia nigra”. This is a critical brain region for the production of dopamine and this neurochemical affects many systems of the central nervous system ranging from movement control, cognitive executive functions, and emotional limbic activity.

Before I continue I must let you know that these were all personal memoirs I began writing when I knew something was not right. By journaling I have felt relief. But by writing a blog and actually putting my thoughts out and making a difference in someone. Is healing.

Expressing in my own way with as many mistakes as you'll find, which probably won't get me into the NY best seller list, it's okay, I don't care. Hahaha!

Living with Parkinson's has made it hard for me to carry a conversation. The way I think is no longer the way I end up saying things. So writing, even though it takes me a while to do, gives me a chance to correct before I press send. Lol



2008-2013

And the symptoms have a name.


I began to feel constant pain on my left foot and toe. My left thumb had a slight tremor.

I was worried because it was affecting my work. Back pain & standing all day. That must be it.

I then started to get slight headaches, only on my left side. That was somewhat concerning because I rarely experienced headaches before.

Then came vertigo and that was a horrible feeling so this led me to have my neck checked. MRIs and a series of audio tests & vision. It turns out all of these symptoms were related to my spine.

Everything was on the left side of my body though.


Why didn't my body give me all of these signals back in Mexico? I realized that back there I held myself together because I had to. You know, when you just don't want to show the world you are crumbling inside.

I created another space where I felt safe and connected with my girls. With nature, with herbs, with Reiki, with healing. As soon as I arrived again in California and began working in Encinitas I lost that ability. My protection shield. The mind-body connection and I lost the power to regain it.

I began to focus on work and the fast paced life I had once left when I moved to Mexico. I went to the dark side.

And I let it take me.

That is when I began to see the changes in my body. I entered reality. Provide for my girls, live back with Mom and had to consider 2 of my girls going to college, not having a vehicle. Bike, bus, rides & walks. I never complained about it. I guess I just wasn't a lazy bones. I had a job. That's all that mattered.



“When I thought I was strong, it was because I needed to be.

Now I need to be strong because it's the only choice I have”


Between 2009-2012 I maintained the same symptoms but finally by mid

2013 I had my first results from an Orthopedic surgeon.


Diagnosis;

Degenerative spondylolisthesis of L4-L5/ L5-S1 ( Back)* Loss of leg muscle and strain, numbness when sitting. Foot & toe pain, numbness , stabbing pain,. Leg cramps.

Cervical spondylosis of C5-C-6 (neck)* I acquired burning stabbing shoulder pain and carpal tunnel

* I later started recognizing these symptoms and attached them to their scientific name


The uncertainty between these issues made it complicated for any of my doctors to make an accurate diagnosis and the reason they could not underline the main cause sooner . For Orthopedic surgeons It was hard to determine if it was spine related/ nerve damage or Parkinson's causing all my symptoms.

I am convinced that the nerve trauma from neck & back have great responsibility for Parkinson's in me.


I'm not done. Then came a dormant chronic sinusitis which they say caused the vertigo.


Well in my own research acute or chronic sinusitis may cause Neurological complications such as brain fog, lethargy or if there is an infection it can cause nerves to get agitated.

My primary doctor finally referred me to a specialist and I began to see a Neurologist.

I did not have any major symptoms for her to go by and prescribed antibiotics for sinusitis. That helped but I kept persisting on each visit and I believe she had my diagnosis as Parkinsonism. What's the difference ? Parkinsonism is having the symptoms of Parkinson's w/o diagnosis ( I didn't get that , do I have it or not?)


6 months later she ordered a DaTscan (Dopamine Active Transfer scan ) This is a SPECT imaging technique that helps visualize dopamine transporter levels in the brain.

“Nuclear Medicine,'' it said on the door.

A scary white door in an underground level you're only allowed with a permit at UCSD

I remember that day wishing I had not started this venture to find the cause. If you search you will find.


Finally my results from Neurologist

December 9, 2013


Diagnosis.

Parkinson's Disease (BOOM!!) age 49.

WTH!!!! Not really, it was WTF!!!

I remember leaving the doctors office, numb.

I thought to myself, what is Parkinson's anyway.

I knew I was going to have something but I guess I did not want it to be soooooooo serious.

I related this disease to older people. I had customers with Parkinson's but I only knew hand tremors to be the only symptom.

Oh boy. That is definitely not all!!!.

I cried and wanted to go into a dark place.

I remember all I got from my doctor was a tissue and a little book on how to deal with Parkinson's. I don't think I ever even opened it.


That day I happened to find that CD I had mentioned and remembered how I love that song and made it my “official after-the-doctor-visit” song. On my way back home I went to the library to find some sort of literature on PD and they were able to find ONE book . I cannot remember the title but I will never forget the first page.

It read, How to adapt your home to wheelchair access for the Parkinson's patient.

I got a rush of cold blood down my body and immediately shut the book and walked out.

Angry!

Thinking, No subtlety?

No Empathy?

I wanted something in exchange. Maybe to blame something or someone? The “F” word never sounded better than that day.


I had a moment to think of my life. Past and future, like a fast train. I had overcome so many other things life had put in my path, I thought.

Pause.

I can be the first woman cured of Parkinson's.

That's it! I had to tell myself something to believe now that everyone had me in a category.

I'm going to figure it out.

I wanted to do things and say….and I am living with Parkinson's disease.


I realized that there are others going through worse situations and think of how lucky I am.


I am being challenged by life and I have the opportunity to fight back.

If I want to.

This is all a mind thing, I thought. I need to reprogram myself before it tries to control me.

I need to go back to that body-mind connection.


Goal is to find a way for it not to progress. How?


Move! Exercise, do the things that make me happy.



Parkinson's affects about 50% more men than women. Most common in persons over 60 . 10% are diagnosed before the age of 50.


Being a woman with Parkinson's is less common than men. Parkinson's is a challenge either way. There is no “sucking it up” on this journey. I didn't cut my finger or have a sore throat.

I will have no control over the changes evolving.

It can be easy to fall into the abyss.

Into the “why me?” mode, but why would I even think I was entitled to an illness free life?


I began to think I had all the symptoms which I didn't really have.

These impulses I think just happen. We are disoriented in what's happening. So many thoughts scared me. I couldn't

stay there and dwell on it.


And literally you have no one to go to. You're on your own until you find a support group. Then you kind of see a light at the end of the tunnel.



After a year of not accepting, I accepted. I surrendered and accepted the challenge. I continued to work, exercised and traveled. I wanted to fulfill every gap of every day with something, just so I wouldn't miss anything. .

I began my adventure. I decided to take the bull by its horns, so to speak.


2014

I bought my spin bike and began my own classes at home. Ironically, cycling/spinning is great for people with PD.I had been spinning since 1998, you would think I was out of danger of getting Parkinson’s. Well, No!

Having practiced this sport for over 20 years has had many benefits, but I will tell you those later.



I started on 3 different medications. One for Parkinson's and 2 for back and nerve pain. This combination was horrible because it made me groggy all day, nauseous and I hardly ate. All of a sudden I lost 20 lbs. I lost muscle and didn't understand how it happened so I used this stage to train a bit harder for my next experience.





Hiked Yosemite falls, 4 miles up 3000ft in elevation. North America's tallest waterfall. ( Love showing off here because if I would not have known I had

PD, I probably would not have done this)



I then decided it was time to jump out of a plane. What a sense of freedom. Afraid of heights? Yes I am! But I immediately put that fear to the side as if I were walking through a dark hallway towards a bright exit. In that passageway there were open cubbies where to store fears, traumas, ego, sadness, speculation, procrastination, resentment, anger, anticipation. This all had to stay before that bright exit, before taking off.


I left it all behind and boarded the plane. We headed 10,000 feet to free fall for 30 seconds. In other words I had 30 seconds to gather my shit I had left in that passageway and turn it into a plan. My life plan. When the parachute finally opened there was a calm. I had a panoramic view of a little piece of earth and I was given this opportunity to feel , to breathe, to touch the air, for I was one of the few in the sky at that moment.



I had no baggage, no thoughts, ….just a brave enough guy whom I put my life in his hands.

Everybody and everything else was down below. I had absolutely no tremors and I was the happiest ever. I thought, this Parkinson’s is going on a ride with me, I am not riding with “it”.

I have photos to take, moments to save, music to dance, songs to sing,

roads to walk, cakes to bake.


So I begin this journey here. To enjoy my life, my family, and my friends. …and my decision to not take Parkinson's medication. Not yet!


Did I mention anything about photography? I will.


♥ Please share. There is somebody out there like me- Eva




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Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Becoming a witness of my body in decline while hiking up a mountain just makes me push harder towards the summit. Always pretend its Kilimanjaro”


One of my favorite photos of a hike before sunrise- San Marcos, CA
Feeling on top of the world

“Music brings me back to life and dancing is "life" telling me it is happy” Headphones ON….The song on my CD after Neurologist appointments is “Oye mi amor” by MANA


I had returned to California for a purpose. When I lived in Mexico I missed the life I had left. And now I miss Mexico. I left my girls, or maybe they let go of me.

They believed in me therefore I could not let them down .

Left a dream I had made real. My coffee shop. Something that made me believe in myself.

And with all its struggles to start from scratch, this place was magical, for us and for our customers.

I think I created this place for my girls without even knowing it. They learned how to bake, cook, make espresso drinks and run a restaurant but most of all, work together.




Our menu was funky and made us different. We had Bagel Sandwiches, specialty espresso drinks, real cheesecakes and served no Coca-Cola, instead Ice Tea.

People had to get used to the fact that we were different, our concept of using one of a kind coffee cups with beautiful designs meant for us to change the person's mood with a cup. A beautiful cup. Cups I would select on my trips to LA.

We passed the test. Hung in there for a rollercoaster 1st year and after that, the rest was history.

May 2021 was our 21st anniversary.


A house built in the late 1800s, a space I made a drawing of 2 years prior and put it on my refrigerator to see everyday. Law of attraction? Definitely. This place was created to sit & unwind for hours, read and get away from the outside world, enjoy a cup of coffee, a dessert or maybe just listen to light jazz music echoing through the high ceiling covered dome. At the same time appreciating the architecture and history of the place. The antiques that adorned the patio, many of which friends also donated. It had a special vibe.

This became girls' livelihood to this day . Café Cultural “El Patio” in Leon, Guanajuato Mexico Established in May, 2000.


 

Around this time I recall I had started to have issues with my digestive system, constipation. I was also a Spin instructor and needed that extra energy to work all day and teach 6am classes which I loved. I did yoga, I was everywhere. I think of taking energy pills, red bull, shots of espresso and wonder if I caused a short circuit somewhere. Sleep deprivation? What I do know now is that Parkinson's Disease may start in the gut.

Research shows proteins thought to play a key role in the disease can spread from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain. Points that way for me. Others may be pesticide related.

Still no way to prevent it. No cure


*So just to let you know... I will be taking you on a bunch of detours but eventually bringing you to the final destination. ( The point of my story ).

Its like the movies that take you to the future then to the past and get you all confused.

Same!


Okay now I'm going to...

2008 then 2004

I knew Living back in California was to start all over.

I went to live in Mexico right after my girls were born. And stayed 18 years to be exact. So even fluently speaking English took time. Taking out my dusty English dictionary from my brain so I could carry on conversations made me think twice on how I wanted to say things. I decided back then I would make up some words and hopefully no one would notice. This way I could blend into the conversations with customers. Ha-ha!! Yeah ! I know, this made me either look stupid or very unique. I went for it. Being Me!

Trying to convert Spanish back into English when it took me so long to perfect my native language makes me think I may have confused my brain a bit , or just maybe, I already had begun to have symptoms.


Dream honey for sleep, Tonic & Garlic Honey for immunity
2003 Healing Moon: Honey, herbs & apple cider vinegar

I always believed in natural healing, herbs, naturopathic medicine, healers etc.

Mexico is very rich in folk medicine therefore I never really needed to see a doctor except my dentist. I realized I was not always dwelling on what hurt or pain, I would pretty much heal with teas, juicing, herbs, massages and like magic everything would go away. I believed.

.

Along with herbology there was a time in my life where I found an affinity for bees and all that evolves them. After having studied herbology with shamans and healers in Cuernavaca, Mexico I combined both by making my own herbal honeys and tonics. This was very spiritual time where I felt grounded and connected with nature. With the universe. With my purpose. To heal others.


 

2004, My father died during this time of colon cancer. In this terrible time of my life I somehow found emotional strength. 6 months before he died he wanted me to be at his bed side and said not to leave him until he was in a hospital so I stayed at the hospital. I was the assigned one, the chosen one, he would say. I was fortunate to share that time with him.

When he was ill he allowed me to do Reiki, give him oxygen drops (bio-oxidative therapy) and Essiac Tea. Brought him a big book of the human body and made him aware of where to visualize his fight with cancer (Simonton method). I was nobody medically but I was his daughter trying everything to save him.


I remember the day I was looking for oxygen drops. I ended up at Whole Foods all the way in West Hollywood (from Boyle heights). Dad had given me money to buy some things for myself and had leftover change so I decided to look for these remedies. I finally found what I needed. I was so excited and got in line. The young man rings me up and says $85.50, I open my hand carefully, I knew I was not going to have enough.

I look at him. Impotent and without either of us saying a word to each other he turns his light on for a manager's assistance and yells out “coupon”. I didn't have one. After the approval, the total was $70 ( Exactly what I had in my hand). When I thanked him I knew he sensed the gratitude I felt all the way from my heart. He smiled . To this day, I'm pretty sure God had something to do with it.


History of Colon Cancer in a first degree relative makes me an increased risk. Great!! Anything else?


 


I need to share some of my past in order to bring you into where I am now.

It would be no fun to just get to the point. Right?. Haha!

It has become difficult to tell a story. In my mind I have a clear idea and description of what I would like to say but when I am ready to speak all of my words are trying to cram out of my mouth at the same time and I make no sense. Then, when they're out I'm trying to sort my phrases, sentences accordingly. I lose my breath when I'm excited, so writing/journaling has been very comforting. It always has been. Now it's typing because my writing is horrible as of this year. After having beautiful handwriting I can no longer understand my own penmanship.

Parkinson's Sucks!!!


I hate to see how I loose a little something each day.

Actually I try not see it but Ill make a note of it.

Ill put my song on and go on a walk/hike, read, draw, exercise, clean, cook. And respect what I have.

My mind is constantly wanting me to do things and can't keep up at times but it has not kept me from trying. -Eva

Leaning tree reminds me of a MONET. Carlsbad,CA
Stand strong, firm and rooted like a solid tree- Leigh Hershkovich




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Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Doctor of My Own Body:

My Journey with Parkinson's Disease

by Eva Zamora


After being diagnosed in 2013 I took careful consideration if I would stay with my current Neurologist. She was maybe great but I did not feel that holding my hand type of empathy. She briefly gave me a summary of this disease and a small booklet. Off I went into the abyss of the questionable.


Medication? Was I ready for medication? Did I have to take it now?

Why should I take it if there is no cure? What would it help with? After listening to my options I knew none would help


Levodopa; it is used to manage PD symptoms such as tremors, stiffness and slowness of movement. It is absorbed in the intestine and transported to the brain where it is converted to dopamine . Hmm??? But all they say is that there is mild side effects and in some cases

hallucinations, depression, anxiety, dyskinesia, dizziness, confusion, change in sense of taste, low blood pressure, sleep problems, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting , constipation, behavioral problems. The medication may give me a good 5 years, and then what? after my body no longer reacts to it what will happen?. These were my questions and concerns.


I have chosen not to take Levodopa….not just yet. I mean I already have symptoms so why would I want to add anymore.

Why? I don’t know.

I have done may things without thinking too much about my decisions yet this one is the biggest gamble I've made in my life. The rest of my quality life. So I better know what I'm doing.

The doctor I decided to see ,one of the best anywhere, was someone I was only able to see maybe once or twice a year for a 20 min consultation. I guess I was looking for compassion in every visit. Doesn't work that way.



Every visit with my neurologist has me hoping for good news. A cure, a new more advanced medication and a stop to its progression. But no. I am a patient on a chart, my doctor does not remember me after thousands of patients or after 7 months. So I do my assessments, walk back and forth , finger tapping exercises and then talk about every new thing that has been going on with me. And the response is usually, yes, that's part of the progression of Parkinson's. As I walk back to my car I have a knot in my throat and feel I've been punched in the stomach. I get in my car, take a deep breath and I put a CD that I have prepped ready to play a song that makes me burst with happiness so much I want to yell it out, I wanna get out of my car in the middle of traffic and just dance. Cry. Sing loud. I want to jump and twirl and shake off the whole consultation out of my system. I breathe again. Come back. Reality. 2000-2008 In my mind, because nobody knows my body better than me, and mine speaks to me, I feel the trauma in my body came from excessive strain on my spine & neck. My back collapsed when doing a plank then I was t-boned by car and injured my neck but did nothing about it. Did not have insurance for either back or neck traumas. I did see a chiropractor and the nerve pain lessened and that was that. The sports doctor I did see told me if I didn’t take care of this now it would haunt me when I got older. I said , who me? I'm not going to get old….. This was about 25 years ago. I'm 56 now and according to that doctor I am officially old. That didn’t stop me , at the time I was a spin and boxing instructor I continued Spin and yoga. Headstands, jogging, Sure I can do it and lets just add some half marathons to that. I know this maybe was not the solution but it sure made me forget what was going on or maybe I didn’t want to think about it what was really going on in my real life. I thought I was invincible. I was also carrying a financial load on my shoulders. Working day and night at my restaurant , four girls and in a relationship where I was the pillar of my family. Stress became a word I added into my vocabulary of life. I always needed an extra boost of energy. So energy drinks and diet pills kept me afloat. My relationship was not healthy and it was a sad time in my life. I felt miserable. Every night I wanted morning to come so I could go and teach a Spin class and just keep busy. Exercise relieved my stress. This all took a toll for the best, so I thought. When I decided to separate from the father of my children I had to leave and chose to be the main supporter for them and was forced to make the hardest decision of my life and that was to leave my girls and trust that they were independent enough to carry on without me but knowing they would now have financial support and our restaurant to lean on. Two girls in college. Thankful for my job and knowing then that I had to stay.- End of 2008




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