Jim has a difficult time waking up in the morning. He gets dizzy, his words slur and he stumbles. His friends say he sometimes has the drunk walk. He bumps into walls, has interrupted sleep, he shakes and at times can’t feel his feet. Jim Arnold has Parkinson’s disease.
While both his mother and his first wife were losing their battles with cancer, Jim had his own battle with cancer. Jim took chemotherapy 52 weeks for colon cancer. Subsequently he has had a stroke, arterial fibrillation and suffers mildly from bipolar conditions. He takes over 21 medications each day to help him fight these problems. As a younger man, Jim served his country and was stationed in one of the most impoverished counties in the world, Ethiopia. While there, he spent his personal time leaving the base in his “civvies,” providing missionary services to the local community. Jim was doing that while civil war raged all around him. Jim is an amazing man.
In spite of all of life’s challenges Jim faces, he reminds me that he leads a blessed life and will continue to give back to his community. His rationale: “to whom much has been given, much is expected.” His blessings are his loving wife, daughters and sons.
I asked Jim the most difficult thing he has faced in life. He said, “outside of losing my loved ones, my most difficult challenge in life has been my Parkinson’s disease. It’s a degenerative disease that has no cure and shows no mercy.”
When confronted with his diagnosis of cancer and heart disease, he always knew his odds and how to approach them. He embraced the odds and beat them. “Those battles also helped me prepare for Parkinson’s.” When he learned that there was no cure for PD and what it would do as it progressed, he became withdrawn and began to lose hope. His depression was pronounced and he needed support. Finally, he turned to a support group through PASD which immediately embraced him, but also reminded him that he could do many positive things with education, exercise and friends who understood the disease.
Today, Jim is a walking billboard for Parkinson’s support and research. He has confronted the disease and learned what he can do to help himself. Jim has turned his own hope into providing help and hope for others. He will be the first to tell you that “God never wastes a hurt, he uses it for good.” You may have seen Jim around town, wearing a backpack and t-shirt with a special word about Parkinson’s.
He is adamant when he says that “my support group saved my life and my nurse practitioner gave me hope. I believe that there are research and therapies in the works which are promising to mitigate my symptoms. They are not there yet, but I have hope. I have hope that a cure may be coming soon, so I need to live my life with purpose and love. I am one of 1.5 million people with this disease, many of whom need to learn how to fight the depression that can be so crippling.”
Today, the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego is helping thousands of San Diegans live with hope through support groups, educational symposia, respite care and by helping to support San Diego-based research; all of which are making a difference in the fight against Parkinson’s.
This holiday season Jim is asking you to help PASD so that the more than 60,000 San Diegans affected by Parkinson’s can find the support, help and hope they need this coming year. Please help by giving as generously as you can.
Ronald C. Hendrix, Ph.D. Executive Director, PASD
Jim Arnold A Man of Hope and Honor
P.S. Your gift will make a life-long impact on Parkinson’s patients, their families and our community. Please give generously to the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego today!
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