Friday, January 2, 2015

The Stories of Athletes with Parkinson's Disease

     With excitement about the upcoming Victory Summit in Las Vegas sponsored by the Davis Phinney Foundation and some leisure time around the holidays for reading - I thought it would be good to share thoughts about some of the books that I have read about athletes with Parkinson's and hopefully get comments about other books that people have read.

     Shortly after I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, I read "Lucky Man" and "Always Looking Up" by Michael J. Fox.  I found reading these books, especially hearing about familiar emotions associated with experiencing the early symptoms of Parkinson's, to be particular helpful at that time.


    After that I turned to the stories of my traditional idols - athletes.  The tales of athletes with Parkinson's symptoms that interfered with not only the physical activities of daily living, but also the activities of physical competition, gave me a framework to process thoughts about the potential impact of Parkinson's on my sporting hobbies.

     I still remember the day that I was on the treadmill in a hotel gym in Fort Lauderdale and looked up at the tv to see a person with Parkinson's in an Oregon State hat (I'm a Beaver).  After watching the rest of the ESPN segment on Ben Petrick - I immediately ordered his book, "Forty Thousand to One".  This was the first book I read about an athlete with Parkinson's.  The fact that he grew up in Oregon, the same state where I attended college and medical school, added to my identification and appreciation of Petrick's story of struggles and successes in dealing with the challenges of Parkinson's Disease, which cut short his major league baseball career.