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Dwight's Story

Patient, Family Man, Gardener, Photographer

About five years ago, I noticed a tremor in my left hand. I realized something wasn’t right, so I went to my doctor and that’s when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I told her that a friend of mine was recently diagnosed and that it frightened me. My doctor tried to reassure me and said that it was nothing to be afraid of. Her advice was to exercise, keep doing what I like to do, and set a goal to accomplish something every day. I have taken that advice to heart and have not let Parkinson’s stop me. I stay active and try to do something I love every day.

I have a garden and caring for the plants is good exercise. I am a retired art teacher, and I want to continue to develop my skills by taking classes. I have a passion for photography, and I can use a tripod to steady the camera if necessary. I take regular walks in my beautiful neighborhood. I go to an aerobics class three times a week and on other days I use the treadmill, stationary bike, and the aerobics machine. Being a part of the gym has helped me connect with other seniors who are also improving their health, balance, and ability to move well. Parkinson’s medications, in combination with staying active, have been a great benefit to me: My tremor has decreased tremendously, my walk is livelier, and I have a more expressive face.

Since my diagnosis, my family has been a big part of helping me keep a positive attitude. My wife is a great support, and we will celebrate our 47th wedding anniversary this year. I have a close relationship with my two daughters, two sons, and my grandchildren, and they are always ready to help however they can. My daughter, Carrie, followed in my footsteps and is a high school art teacher. This year, as a show of her support for me and for others who have this disease, she and her students created a six-foot-tall Parky raccoon, a symbol of Parkinson’s awareness.

When I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I tried to remember that God doesn’t give anyone anything they can’t handle. I decided to have faith and accept the truth, and this has helped me stay strong. I want to be open about the disease so that I can be helpful to others who may suffer in silence. My motto is to enjoy every day of my life, follow my passion, and set goals that help myself and others. I look for blessings each day.

Dwight Berning, Age 72, USA

Living with Parkinson’s

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