A Letter to Ozzy Osbourne After His Parkinson’s Diagnosis
Let me be one of the first to welcome you into our exclusive club that no one wants to join. Now that you have come “out” with your diagnosis, there is so much you can do for yourself and for other People with Parkinson’s disease (PwP’s). You took a year off to come to terms with your diagnosis. Understood. Those four words : “You have Parkinson’s disease” can be devastating. No one wants to hear that. We all go through the stages of grief until we come to terms with the knowledge that life as we knew it has changed. Only then can we move forward. As your wife Sharon (I like that name!) said, it is not a death sentence; there is much you can do to live your life to the fullest with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Making the Best of Life with PD
You are fortunate to be able to look for treatment anywhere. You say you are going to travel to go to a specialist clinic in Switzerland, where experts work on boosting patients’ immune systems before trying additional treatments. All of us would love to hear how that goes. You said to Sharon that, if that does not work, “I will go anywhere. I will go and see a witch doctor.” Now, I hope that is a joke or hyperbole to express frustration. Every one of us with this disease feels that way to some (and maybe a great) degree. But if you are serious . . .??? A witch doctor? If you want to get out to the edge, to try the experimental, there are much better avenues to take. In the 11 years since I was diagnosed, a lot of progress has been made towards finding a cure, or at least a treatment to slow or halt progression of the disease, and there are clinical trials going on world-wide. The community you have involuntarily joined would be thrilled to learn what you learn in one of those pursuits. But please, not a “witch doctor.”
Research has shown that the most effective treatment for PD, better than any medication developed to date, is … exercise. Those of us who are living well with PD exercise almost daily. Since you live in Los Angeles, you can join us at our boxing class for PwP’s in Santa Monica. Don’t be shy — people with PD are some of the nicest and most inspirational people you will meet.
Keep on singing. Singing helps you maintain your speaking voice, which tends to get quieter with PD. It also helps with swallowing problems that may occur later as the disease progresses. And, God knows, many of us love to hear your music. There are singing groups for PwP’s in LA you can join. I am sure that they would welcome another musician to their group. They even perform around Los Angeles. That may not be quite the same as going on tour with your band, but it could be a good warm-up for you to get back on the road. What a thrill that would be for those in the group! There is so much more that you can do, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with now. Good nutrition, finding the right medication for you and — to repeat — exercise can all help you lead a “normal” life.
The Parkin Gene
Did you know that only a small percentage of people with PD have the Parkin gene? Because you have the gene, it puts you at an advantage over people like me who have idiopathic PD — Parkinson’s of unknown origin. There is a lot of research going on with genetic forms of PD that will not only benefit you, but may help the rest of us without the gene mutation.
Use Your Fame
Ozzie, you would be a great spokesperson for all of us with PD. Join Michael J. Fox, Alan Alda and others in educating the public about PD and raising money to find a cure. Unfortunately, too many celebrities announce they have PD and disappear from sight. Think of the good you can do for yourself and others by speaking publicly on our behalf. If you can bite the head off a bat while performing on stage in front of thousands of adoring fans, you can battle Parkinson’s and win. I know you have the strength to do something positive with all of this. We have faith in you.
One of your fans and fellow travelers on this journey,
Sharon Krischer, aka Twitchy Woman
Beverly Hills, California
Watch the full interview from Good Morning America here.
Follow this journey on Twitchy Woman.