by Eric Jenican, Founder, Endorphin Warrior
One thing that is so interesting about having a business like Endorphin Warrior is that when someone places an order with us, we have no idea what their motivation may be, as to why they are ordering one of our products. They may be ordering something to help them reach a running goal, lose weight…or they could be facing a life-changing disease. When our customer Kim Petrie first contacted us by email, I noticed this quote on her email signature line:
“Be kind to everyone you meet, as we are all fighting some kind of battle.”
As I read this, I thought, “How true.” Then, I found out that Kim was battling Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. As Kim shared more about herself, I increasingly became inspired by her. Here’s Kim’s story.
EJ: What were the first symptoms of Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease that you experienced?
KP: The first symptoms of my onset of Parkinson’s happened when I was at a Provincial Championship hockey game that my son was playing in. It was cold inside the arena and the game was very tense. My left leg would not stop shaking. I passed it off to the cold. A while later I was in a second interview with two men who were drilling me and my leg started to shake again. I put that off to stress and nerves. Again, a while later I started to have difficulty sliding my left foot into my shoes. I actually had to bend down to put my shoe on my foot. About the same time I noticed that cutting my food and putting my hair in a pony tail was becoming more difficult. My left side was not working properly. I went to my family doctor who sent me for an ECG test at the hospital. This doctor thought it might be essential tremors. He was not 100 percent in that diagnosis, so I was referred to a neurologist. I went to the appointment the day after returning home from our first family trip to Florida. While in Florida I was having difficulty walking smoothly. I also remember distinctly seeing in the airport a large photo of Michael J. Fox…a coincidence…I’m not sure. I was with the neurologist giving my symptoms, etc. and he said there is something going on, but wasn’t sure what. He ordered an MRI and then did a physical exam asking me to do finger taps, walk a straight line…he rotated my wrist and ankles…and then the change in his demeanor scared me a little. He said, “Let’s go have a chat…should we get your husband?” I said, “No…it can’t be that bad.” We sat down and he said, “I’m very sorry. It is in my best medical opinion that you have Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.” My world stopped… I heard no more and said, “You better get my husband.” I tuned out from that point on and wanted to run out of the office.
EJ: What was your initial reaction to your diagnosis? How did you respond over the first few months?
KP: My initial reaction was disbelief…it can’t be….he’s wrong…we will wait for the second opinion before we believe him. Life went on and I shared the news with only a handful of people. We sold our home and bought a new one, so I was busy packing, unpacking and it was summer. But this dark cloud followed me everywhere. My appointment with the specialist wasn’t until February, so I had a long time to wait to get the second opinion. I was on the wait list for the specialist and got a call in August. “Can you come tomorrow?” they asked. I said, “Yes,” and the next day I sat with a team of four to five doctors…asking questions…physical exams were done…more questions…and then, yes, the room of doctors agreed that I have Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. We traveled back home and my husband and I asked, “Now what do we do?”
EJ: What are you doing now to fight your disease?
KP: I had reached a low point in my life in the fall and I went to see my specialist. My plan was to ask for an increase in my medication. The doctor said “no” and told me to make some life changes first. So I did some soul searching and decided I needed someone who would help me feel better…and a new job. I was laid off from work, which was a blessing now, as I had no choice. I was able to take some time and found a fitness coach who committed to me. He’s holding me accountable to fight this disease…to become stronger, healthier, and have a balance with mind, body and soul.
EJ: What are you doing to have the highest quality life you can?
KP: I don’t waste time worrying about little things. I interact with positive people. I support people whose lives have been affected by PD and I fundraise for Parkinson’s. And I work hard at having a positive attitude and spend a lot of time with my husband and three children.
EJ: How has your perspective on your life changed due to your disease?
KP: At first I asked, “Why me…?” Then it became, “Why not me?” I don’t let Parkinson’s define me…I have it…that won’t change. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore and I rid myself of negative people and negative things. A while after my diagnosis my husband started doing his own research on Parkinson’s and found the Light of Day Foundation, which is associated with Bruce Springsteen. This foundation is all about music and raising funds for diseases such as Parkinson’s. My husband is a musician and I had always wanted to work in special events planning, so we put our heads together and started planning Let’s Shake, our fundraising event for Parkinson’s. To date, Let’s Shake has raised over $55,000 for Parkinson’s research, attracting over 650 people each year. Our goal is to raise awareness and funds for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.
EJ: You started out purchasing a BELIEVE Dog Tag and recently added an UNBREAKABLE ring and bracelet. How has your focus on these words helped you?
KP: My mantra became BELIEVE, as I have to believe in myself to have the courage to fight this disease head on…that there will be a cure…and I like what the word believe stands for. I recently added UNBREAKABLE, due to my fitness coach, Jeremy White. I was focused on giving my new venture of training a name. Jeremy said to me, “Why do you have to name this journey? It’s yours.” Then he said to me, “I want to make you UNBREAKABLE…no more tears.” My motto now is, “I am UNBREAKABLE…PD is not!”
This year’s Let’s Shake event is April 17, 2015, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. For more information about Let’s Shake, or how to make a donation, visit their website: www. Lets-shake.com. Endorphin Warrior will be doing something to contribute and/or fundraise for this year’s event. Look for an announcement soon.