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Butler Hospital
Butler Hospital

Sandra MacLeod, Grateful Patient

The Aronson Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders

Aronson Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders

The Aronson Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders


Many years ago,I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. I was experiencing some tremors and rigidity in my hands, and my primary care physician suggested I see a neurologist, Dr. Joseph Friedman. I had just assumed these symptoms were simply aging or stress, or maybe even nothing, but with his referral, I began to realize that this could be something serious.

I can still remember that day so clearly, when after exams and testing, Dr. Friedman said matter-of-factly: "Sandi, you have Parkinson's disease." I was only 39 years old and a single mom of two young boys. I burst into tears – how could this be happening? I had so many questions, so many fears, so much confusion, but couldn't utter a single response. I could only think to put my head in my hands and cry.

After doing a great deal of soul-searching and, admittedly, researching on the internet, I went back to Dr. Friedman, determined to keep control of my life and stay off medication for as long as possible. I was armed with questions about alternative and complementary care. He patiently listened and remarked on each one, working with me to develop a plan to keep me physically active and mentally engaged.

I have grown to respect and count on Dr. Friedman. What I appreciate most about him as my physician is that he has supported my decision to seek alternative therapies, encouraging me to maintain a strict regime of massage, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic care, weights and cardio workouts that I had developed. I have had to make a 100 percent commitment to this routine – it is quite a challenge with two teenagers in the house, but it has been working. The progression of my disease has been slow and today I only take a small dose of medication to help tackle the rigidity. My friends may feel they are a "slave to the gym", but for me it is a physical and emotional rush, knowing it helps me gain control over my disease and of my life.

I hope that The Aronson Chair for Neurodegenerative Disorders will help Butler Hospital get the word out about Parkinson's disease. I was amazed to find that at Butler there are physicians who care for you as a whole person – your physical and emotional wellbeing – and will push you to stay active, positive, to ask questions about your symptoms and treatments, and to be an active part of your own health and life.

Care New England
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