If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It!
I am a local politician, WPC 2019 blogger, WPC 2019 ambassador, entrepreneur, founder of Cure4Parkinson, coach, a DJ for Radio Parkies and a Person with Parkinson's and I love it all, even the Parkinson’s. Last month I was re-elected to the Liberal Alliance party and now have four more years in the municipal council in Rudersdal Municipality.
In November 2013, I was elected head candidate for the Liberal Alliance for the municipal Rudersdal elections in Denmark. I was happy, but I had a secret. Six years prior to this I had been in and out of the hospital for treatment of my frozen arm and shoulder. That year I decided to live with my arm and shoulder as it was. Unfortunately, my family ran into a series of health crises that year. In October, my husband found a hole in the retina of one eye and was operated on urgently and then in December, my 17-year-old son was urgently operated on for a prolapsed disc. We got through Christmas and New Year’s without incident but on Sunday, January 13, 2013, the biggest disaster occurred in our family, my husband had a huge blood clot in his heart. He survived, but I had been hit hard and I struggled after that in many ways. The stress made me go back to the doctor for my arm. I saw a new doctor, Dr. Nastaran, who told me, "You have Parkinson’s."
The final diagnosis came June 20, 2013, five months before the election in November 2013. I was in shock and my family was too. Following my husband's advice, I decided to keep my Parkinson’s diagnosis a secret. I was worried about the stigma that comes from having a chronic illness. The November 2013 election came and I won. There I was, on the front page of the newspaper, with my secret. The day I got my diagnosis I went into my Parkinson's closet and stayed there until April 2016. Three years in the dark, afraid that someone might figure it out and use it in politics. It finally happened in 2016. I learned that some people were planning to use my illness against me.
At first I was unsure about what to do. I was attending the Social and Health Committee Meeting when I decided that I had had enough. I did not consult with anyone. I interrupted the meeting and announced for the first time, “I HAVE PARKINSON’S” and started crying. Everyone was astonished, but after the shock many people came up to me to say that they were sorry to hear that I had the disease. That same day I wrote a long post on Facebook - it was a big shock for everyone. I called the local newspaper and the next day I was on the front page again, but this time with the title of the article "Ildal has Parkinson's". My secret was out.
I also had to tell my family what I had done. I sent a text message to my husband who was shocked that I told everyone. We still do not talk much about Parkinson's in my family, but I now have ownership of my own disease. The years of darkness were over after my announcement.
Throughout the three years in the closet in the dark, I had followed the Michael J Fox Foundation and the World Parkinson Coalition and WPC 2016. Free as a bird I went to WPC 2016 in Portland with my story. After Portland, I flew to Spain for three weeks of rehabilitation. In November 2016, back in Denmark, I established Cure4Parkinson, a training center where it is unique that people with Parkinson's train other people with Parkinson's through boxing, gymnastics, table tennis, and strength training. WPC 2016 Portland saved and changed my life forever.
This year, in 2017, I campaigned proudly as a person with Parkinson’s and was elected as head candidate for the election of November 2017. I was re-elected as a politician, even with my Parkinson's. NowI live with items PD 24/7 with full public disclosure. I was re-elected for four more years with the most personal votes in my area.
I got a new life. Parkinson's is an appendix to me - I'm not an appendix to Parkinson's and will never be. I want to thank the World Parkinson Coalition’s Executive Director, Eli Pollard, Kathleen, Andy, Chrissy, Andre, Vilborg, Radio Parkies and Bob for teaching me to fly without wings. I have a better life after Parkinson's, and do not want to get my old life back. I know it's provocative, but that's it! And to my constituents, thank you so much for your confidence in me! To my fellow Parkies, let our voices be heard around the whole world!
Freedom, peace and happiness to all.
Elisabeth Ildal is an Ambassador and Blogger Partner for the 5th World Parkinson Congress. She founded Cure4Parkinson and represents Rudersdal in the Municipal Council in Denmark.
Ideas and opinions expressed in this post reflect that of the authors solely. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of the World Parkinson Coalition®