Patient, wife, mountain climber
I am 30 years old. I am a registered nurse, a newly-wed, and expecting my first baby this December. I live in Montana with my husband Ryan. I love being outside fishing, hiking, rafting, and enjoying the fresh air. I live a pretty normal life… except, I have Parkinson’s disease.
Honestly, I can’t say when I first noticed my tremor. It never really bothered me, at least not until other people began noticing it. My best guess is that it started sometime in nursing school, when I was 23 or 24 years old. It wasn’t long before a practitioner spotted it at an annual exam- a slight tremor present in my right foot. I was referred to a Neurologist, which I thought was a bit extreme but I complied. And then, just over a year later (a week before my 26th birthday) I received my first PD diagnosis. The following year I received genetic confirmation that I did indeed have PD.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; “You’re too young to have Parkinson’s?” “How could they know you have it?” “You don’t look like you have Parkinson’s.” I thought the same thing! I was convinced my doctor was jumping the gun and being a bit reckless. I told myself “she’s wrong, she can’t possibly know that.” I was angry at her, I was angry with my legs, in short- I was mad at the world. It just wasn’t fair! I was too young and I had so much more I wanted to accomplish. It felt like my life was over. I kept my diagnosis very private, telling only my family, boyfriend, and closest friends. Everyone was just as shocked and concerned for me.
Being diagnosed was undoubtedly the hardest thing I have ever been through. I was a nervous wreck, angry, and depressed. My health deteriorated and I barely weighed a hundred pounds. I looked horrible and felt even worse. Family and friends were concerned and tried to help but I pushed everyone away. I felt alone and broken.
Then a few months after my second diagnosis, I had an epiphany; I wasn’t dying, I was still very physically active, in fact- I couldn’t think of a single thing I couldn’t accomplish… well, other than sit still for longer that a few minutes. Suddenly, my old cheery self began to grow inside of me. I slowly worked on changing my mindset from hopelessness to positive and confident.
As I gained back my self-worth I wanted to inspire others with PD to do the same. I wanted to pave the way for health and exercise in people living with PD. I decided to do this I would first need to get the PD community’s attention, so I went public about my PD and announced that I would be climbing the highest peak in Montana to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease. I also started a non-profit Summit 4 Parkinsons (whose name was later changed to Summit for Parkinson’s.) There was an overwhelming response from both the public and PD community… I had got their attention!
On August 15, 2010 I, with the help friends, conquered Granite Peak- the highest mountain in Montana. This was one of the proudest moments of my life. I signed the ledger on top of Granite Peak “Brandi Roman- living happy and healthy with Parkinson’s disease.
The last five years has been an interesting journey and I’m still learning and adapting to life with Parkinson’s. But, I’m happy to say that I have a great life. I have a loving and supportive husband and family and I am looking forward to the arrival of our first baby.