Your journey begins now in finding your rainbows behind the storm known as Parkinson’s Disease
Maria De Leon, MD
I met Maria de Leon last month at the Women & Parkinson’s Initiative Conference sponsored by Parkinson’s Diva was recently published and is a must read for every woman with Parkinson’s.
Maria de Leon, MD, was a neurologist treating Parkinson’s patients for more than 20 years when she started experiencing many of the same symptoms as her patients. Because most of these were non-motor symptoms, not the traditional PD tremor , she and her husband, also a doctor, thought she was just overworked. But a consultation with a friend with whom she had gone through residency with confirmed that the problem was in her BRAIN, not her HEAD. Maria was diagnosed with Young Onset PD, which changed her life forever.
Parkinson’s Diva is a result of much soul searching after her diagnosis and forced retirement from practicing medicine. Her insightfulness, warmth and humor, along with a good dose of medical information, research and strategies for living with PD, make this book a must read for all women with PD. The book is filled with anecdotes that will leave you laughing out loud, practical advice from treating Parkinson’s patients for so many years, and even some of her favorite recipes. She is always seeking the rainbows behind the storm, gently nudging you to follow her on this journey to living well with Parkinson’s Disease.
As she states in the very first chapter, women with PD must be pro-active and educate themselves to ensure better quality health care for several reasons. Most importantly, Gender differences in symptoms, research and treatment have not seriously been looked at before. Most research in the past has focused on men with PD, not women. Dr. de Leon states that Estrogen may play a large role in how women present their symptoms and how they respond to medication. Much more research needs to be done in this area to help identify PD earlier in women so that effective treatment can begin sooner.
Dr. de Leon describes herself as a Parkinson’s Diva, which she defines as a lady of distinction and good taste, with some chocolate thrown in for good measure. She encourages you to “live la levadopa” to the fullest and do not sweat the small stuff. As women, wives and mothers, our needs often come last, but we must remember to take care of ourselves first. Put on your favorite red lipstick and show the world that you are still you and you have much more to contribute to the world, even with PD. Take charge of your life and embrace your inner Diva.
Check out Maria de Leon’s website at http://parkinsonsdiva.org/