If you haven’t seen Allison’s blog “The Perkie Parkie”, you will definitely want to start following it after you read her interview. Having PD can be difficult at times, and Allison lays out all of her challenges in a open and very humorous way. I love her writing style and want a “wolfpack” just like hers!
Hi Allison, tell me a little about yourself.
Most of my family lives in the Phoenix area of Arizona. I live in Laguna Niguel, which is a city in Orange County, California and yes, I do live 30 minutes away from Disneyland (the happiest place on earth). I work in a Neurology and Pain Clinic as a Psychotherapist. But currently I am on disability recovering from a medical setback. I am looking forward to coming back to work this Spring. I enjoy working with people and sharing stories. This lead me to starting my blog “The Perky Parkie”. I realized how many people were looking for support and the internet helped me expand my reach to all parts of the world. There is a power of sharing your story.
What is your journey with Parkinson’s?
I moved from Tucson, Arizona to Irvine, California for graduate school in marriage and family therapy in 2005. I started noticing symptoms when I was in my master’s program. I was 29 years old but didn’t get my “official” diagnosis until I was 32. I got diagnosed in March of 2010 and then had Deep Brain Stimulation the following month. Some people are shocked to hear that I went through DBS surgery so quickly after my diagnosis. They view DBS as a last alternative, but I didn’t want to lose muscle mass, mobility, and difficulty with gait, and wait until I was just “bad enough” to get DBS. It didn’t make sense to me at my early age. My Dad says I am the only girl who would go into brain surgery and come out with a job because after I had DBS, I knew I wanted to get involved in the community that I now belonged to.
Your blog is incredibly personal and very funny, which is why I think so many people gravitate to it and comment on the posts. I’ve seen 50-100 people comment on recent posts which is amazing. When did you realize that your blog was really connecting with people and did that impact the way you blog?
When I started blogging, (6 years ago) I was just hoping to connect with people in my local community. I never realized how far my blog traveled until I had a few experiences that changed my whole vision for my blog. I had a man who contacted me through my blog. His wife had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and they lived in the Canary Islands. They had a huge lack of resources available to them and had turned to the internet to find information. With each blog post, this man would translate my words to his wife. I work in a Neurology and Pain Clinic which allowed me many resources available, so I created a care package stuffed with pamphlets, books and research studies (and of course a signed copy of my book, “I am not Contagious”). It was such a great feeling knowing that I had made a difference in a complete stranger’s life.
Despite having your fair share of health challenges, you’re also a licensed family & marriage therapist and a wellness coach! How do you find the energy to give so much to others while having PD?
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 13, Ulcerative Colitis when I was 18, Colon Cancer at age 24, Parkinson’s at age 32, full hysterectomy at age 36… you can say that I have had a few challenges. Ha! I knew that I wanted to help people as I was facing my own health challenges. I get energy and a feeling of happiness when help others… it gives my life meaning. But with that said, if I have a bad day, I still give myself permission to have an off day.
What are you enjoying right now?
Ohhhh, difficult question. I have many things that I am enjoying right now. Right now the weather is warm in California so my dog Crash and I head to the lake down the road from my home and walk around. Right now all the geese, ducks, squirrels and bunnies are about to have their spring babies, I just love watching how life just continues.
What is one of your challenges right now?
I have had a challenging medical setback. I have had 7 medical procedures with general anesthesia and am facing 2 more, one of those happening this week. It has been difficult to stay positive and hopeful. But with my strong wolfpack… I have been able to get through it.
Do you have a morning or evening routine that helps you start or end the day well?
About an hour before I go to bed, I get into my comfy bed and read a book. It’s like my wind down time. As long as I don’t read a Dean Koontz book right before I go to bed… I usually can’t put his books down.
Do you have any favorite beauty products?
Must haves are E.O.S lip balm and either a hair tie or hair clip. Because my hair is so long, it’s nice to get it out of my face.. you know, so I can see what’s in front of me.
How would you describe your style in three words?
Fashion Style: Comfy, simplified, practical. Writing Style: quirky, honest, respectful.
What is something you enjoy doing for self-care?
Love, Love, Love getting massages. They not only help with the rigidity, but they allow me to shut my brain off… even if it’s just for an hour.
You make us laugh on your blog. What makes you laugh?
Animal videos. I can get sucked into the vortex of animals doing silly things… I can on YouTube for hours. Llamas spitting on people, pygmy goats in pajamas, cats taking baths, you name it. I can’t help but laugh. Now imagine if you could get a llama to spit on a pygmy goat in pajamas, while a cat in a bath tub watches. Epic!
What or who inspires you right now?
My friend, Gina. She is a single mother, who also has her mother living with her, but she is always there to care for me when I am having an off day. She is a friend who is so giving and only wants to help. A true definition of friend. I’m blessed to have her in my life.
Your favorite animal, a dessert you love (other than frozen yogurt!), and a song you love.
Got to say a sloth. They always look like they’re smiling and I can relate to moving so slow. Dessert is anything sweet. I love frozen yogurt… but that is a given. Song I love: Imagine by John Lennon.
P.S. Don’t miss Crash’s guest post on The Parkie Perkie!