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Participant Information

Sue Anne Bartocci McConnell

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Recently, I revealed to my collectors and fellow artists that I have Parkinson's disease. I thought it might help others to write about how this disease has affected my life and my work.

About two years ago, I noticed a tremor in my left hand. After a couple of trips to my family doctor, he referred me to a neurologist who confirmed that I was, indeed in the early stage of Parkinson's. Like most patients with this disease, the tremor bothers me mostly when my hand is idle. My hand bothers me less when it is busy, either doing my sculpting or soldering. About the soldering.....ouch! Yes, I have burned my fingers several times in my journey to learn decorative soldering, but that can happen to anyone with or without a tremor. I don't let the disease stop me from doing anything that I want to do. In fact, I didn't learn how to solder until after I was diagnosed.

I don't dwell on how this disease will affect me next year, or ten years from now. Each case is different. I will admit, however, that I did what every person does when he or she has been given the diagnosis of a degenerative disease. I looked up everything I could on the Internet! But, I eventually realized that looking into the future would not change anything and that I needed to learn to live and enjoy one day at a time.

Sure, my tremor is annoying. For me, being a person who likes to lay her cards on the table, telling people about my PD is preferable to having them wonder why my hand is shaking.

I see my neurologist on a regular basis, take a medicine that helps preserve the dopamine making cells I have left, and I take the recommended supplements.

I will continue to sculpt and solder and now I want to learn how to etch brass.

The diagnosis is not a death sentence, nor is it reason to close up shop.

I want to mention, that when I first found out I had PD, I was afraid that doll collectors would immediately think that my work would be inferior to my work before PD. I have to tell you, that I think it is better and others have told me so too! Maybe that's because I have to work a little harder and I don't take my talent for granted so much.

So there you have it. I count my blessings every day. I have had 61 good years and hope to have many more.

I hope my story will help other artists with this or any other degenerative disease.