Shuffling Editor Note: This post is the work of Valerie Herrero, steadfast widow of Gerard Herrero. Gerard died May 26 from complications of his PD, diagnosed in 2005. Gerard never, ever gave in to his PD, which he and Valerie fully “owned.” The Herrero’s were headline members of the North Tampa PD Support Group. Valerie continues to serve as the email megaphone for the group and many other PD service organizations and individuals in the Tampa Bay area. Valerie is unstoppable when she seizes an issue and makes it hers. Here she recounts PD the journey she and Gerard had and offers lessons learned.
By Valerie Herrero
On Friday, May 26, 2017, my husband, Gerard Herrero, left the world, as we know it. Gerard is free from the Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease and related autoimmune issues he and I wrestled with for 13 years.
PD started, as a nuisance twitching of one finger but gradually became challenging, trying and very ugly. There were shaking, freezing, balance issues; difficulty getting up from chairs; difficultly dressing, especially with buttons and zippers, socks and tennis shoes.
It became challenging to eat at home or in a restaurant. Holding tight onto objects such as cups and glasses, sandwiches, forks, etc. became an adventure.
As a care partner, you learn to modify and adapt. For example, this last year we moved his tax preparation, accounting services and financial advisory business to a home office after his PD worsened.
Weekly exercise became the top of our agenda with YMCA PD Spinning, Rock Steady Boxing, Tai Chi, PT, OT and walking. We mastered walking sticks and walkers to push forward. We were always looking for something new to try.
PD drugs started to buck Gerard. The last 2 years he had more off times than on times. Adjusting Carbidopa-levodopa dosages was unsuccessful. Some days he would take 12 – 14 pills in a 24-hour span.
Then in May 2014, his immune system went wacky. Gerard’s platelet count dove to dangerous levels. In December 2016, Gerard was diagnosed with Bullous pemphigoid Disease, an autoimmune skin disorder.
Words I leave for Parkies and their care community: Get PREPARED! PD is an ugly, malicious, humbling disease that causes other health issues and life trials. Whether you accept it or not, realize it or not, death is inevitable and one day it will knock.
Everyone needs to start assembling their team of doctors, creating a palliative action plan and finalizing an end of life care plan. Get all your documents in order: (medical, estate, will, wishes, organ donations, etc.). You never know when it’s going to be your last breath.
No matter what stage of PD you are in……Please….. Please make every day the best gift you have. Create memories because time is precious!
Please take the time to live, love and laugh as if today is your last. Don’t assume anything. Someone else higher up is in charge and has the master plan.