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Rebecca Miller knew something was wrong when she went to reach for her baby daughter and her hand wouldn’t move unless she actually told it to. Am I having conflicts about caring for my daughter?’” the clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, department of psychiatry, tells SELF.“I shared the news with friends and family right away,” she says.“I also made the decision at work to be open about it, particularly because people see me slightly limping and ask about it.” Miller admits that sometimes it can be “awkward and uncomfortable” to share her diagnosis, but overall people have been “so loving” and regularly ask how she’s doing. Both women are on medication for their Parkinson’s symptoms and regularly see specialists about their condition to make sure it’s under control as much as possible.Miller, then 39, eventually went to her primary care physician, who sent her to a variety of specialists for testing.During the process, it came out that she had been dragging one of her feet for 10 years and had started texting with her left hand, even though she was right-handed—symptoms she didn’t think were a big deal.“I had to go on disability and left a big chunk of my identity behind,” she says.
She was surprised by his reaction: He asked what her diagnosis meant and how it would affect their life together.
“It was really a shock,” she says, “but he said something that was powerful for me: ‘You are in charge of your disease; Don’t let it be in charge of you.’”That’s a mantra echoed by Kelly Weinschreider, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when she was just 29.
“I had symptoms a few years before that, like stiffness and fatigue,” she tells SELF.
“I was very blasé about the whole thing,” she says.
“I didn’t think much about it and wasn’t concerned.”It wasn’t until just before Miller met with a movement disorder specialist that things changed.