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Participant Information

Laura Dean

Port Orchard

When I was 5 years old I entered into what would become a life-long process of finding purpose of self through creativity. This is the age when I began playing the piano.

By the age of 12, I was tired of the classics such as Bach and Mozart and began writing my own compositions. The expressions that had been carried in my mind had found a release. The ivories became my sounding board.

At the age of 15, I developed shingles. The virus then turned to meningitis, and finally encephalitis. I nearly died and given the odds of having all three at one time, I am surprised I didn't.

The illness had a huge impact on my outlook of life. This is when I began to write poetry. Not little love tidbits - I delved right away into the deep, real aspects of life. My music had also changed, becoming more complex and lyrics added emphasis to the meaning of what stage of life I was in.

While I was in my mid 20's, I was a single mother trying hard to make ends meet. I did manage to work hard enough to buy my own home. But, something very strange was happening to me physically. It was hard to explain to anybody, yet I knew that there was something going on. I began to go to doctors and counselors receiving diagnosis' from epilepsy to stress.

A neurologist finally tried me on a medication that worked instantly. Sinemet. The doctor mentioned Parkinson's disease. I ignored it. That was 1984. I was 26 years old. I went to several neuro's after that refusing to accept the diagnosis.

My music and my poetry became my solace.

In 2010, I will have had PD for half my life. I have not held a job in many, many years. I know what it means to depend on a wheelchair as I was confined to one before my DBS in 2003.

Throughout this entire life with PD, I have over and over reinvented myself through creativity.

I am now published, and have won numerous awards for my poetry. The computer has opened the world of graphic art and also music composition on a grand scale.

There has always been a side of me that keeps positive with the knowledge that I have Parkinson's disease...Parkinson's disease does NOT have me!