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My neurologist had the nerve to retire

When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in December of 2014, my wife, Kerry, lovingly soothed my back with her gentle touch.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

The last thing I said to Kerry before the neurologist, Dr. Sullivan, entered the examination room was, “I know it’s PD!”

I think she did as well. Being an RN for decades, it is in her DNA to be observant, especially when it comes to medical issues.

After having my assessment confirmed, the good doctor continued on with a game plan. It was the positive outlook presented to me by the doctor, his staff and my wife that shepherded me through those early stages of denial, anger, etc.

I now find myself solidly planted in the realm of acceptance, a place where I can use my experience to help reassure others that there is a greater purpose and that we need to take control of our own Parkinson’s destiny.

Along the journey, my go-to guy, Dr. Sullivan, decided it was time to retire.

“Wait a minute, you can’t retire now. I need you! What will happen to me?” I started drowning in my own selfishness, blinded by my concern for the here and now, not the opportunities that would present themselves in the very near future.

My first door of opportunity was selecting Dr. Sullivan’s replacement for my ongoing care. I was offered a list of names, and knowing nothing about any of them I asked two questions. Which one would Dr. Sullivan select should he find himself in need of a neurologist? And which of the docs is on the cutting edge of PD advancements?

“If I were in your shoes, Richard, the only doctor I would consider for my own treatment would be Walter Carlini,” Sullivan said. “And as far as cutting edge goes, Dr. Carlini is also at the top of that list.”

That was easy. I made the obvious decision to request a referral to Dr. Carlini. It was the best decision I ever made, with no regrets today, a couple of years down the road.

If one is looking for a doctor to sit there and hold their hand or someone who always walks around with a big smile on their face, Dr. Carlini is not your guy. But if you need an open-minded approach to your longterm prognosis and treatment plan, then you need look no further.

No, this is not a “Vote for Walter” rally, and I am not being reimbursed for my verbal support. I just like my doc, and don’t get me started on my urologists, cardiologist, dermatologist, physiologist and every other “doc-ologist” out there waiting to participate in my encroaching eldercare.

I’ve talked a lot about how blessed I am due to my dance with PD. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish this journey upon anyone, but if you do find yourself down that road, or any road wrought with anxiety, confusion and fear, know that you are not alone. Reach out and take the hand of someone near you. Chances are, they needed a hug too.

A couple of years ago I was invited by Pioneer Village Senior Living in Jacksonville to relocate the PD care/support group I facilitate with Kerry out of our home to their facility. Last spring our gatherings were put on hold until it is once again safe to do so. Once this pandemic is behind us, we will again meet at Pioneer Village, 805 N. Fifth St., Jacksonville, at 2 p.m. the third Thursday of every month in the Media Room, (there is an elevator for those who are stair-challenged).

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.

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