By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

What do you think of when you hear the word Parkinsons?
Like me, your list is probably composed of common and familiar symptoms:
Tremors. Shaking. Involuntary trembling. Slowed speech and movement.
While these symptoms are indeed signs of Parkinsons, they are more likely than not suggestive of a later phase of the disease.
Hmmm ...
Last night I decided to have a "chat and check-in" with some neighbor friends of ours who I hadn't seen for awhile. I'd concluded that they were either on vacation or shut-in with an illness of some kind and was almost surprised when I heard the shuffle of feet on the floor in response to my knock.
A big smile danced in *Leonard's eyes as he extended his thin arms and reached for the fresh warm loaf of bread being delivered him.
"Good girl, good girl," he said with a cheerful chuckle, "Come on in."
Leonard shared that he had only recently been diagnosed with Parkinsons. His diagnosis was given to him on the early side of the disease and a bit more hopeful and positive prognosis was afforded him as a result.
A brief education was afforded me about Parkinsons, which attended an immediate fact-finding mission of my own upon getting back home, but one very curious fact interested and intrigued me which Leonard openly shared with me:
Leonard was referred to a Neurologist who simply encouraged him to walk about normally while he observed his basic walking patterns. Leonard confided, in good humor to me, that he was trying extra hard to walk "perfect" on account of being diagnosed with some fearful disease and said he did his "darndest," to walk without a shuffle and with clean, even steps. He felt he'd succeeded.
Confidently seated and after his walking assignment, the Neurologist surprised him by an assertion that he felt confident that Leonard was in the early stages of Parkinsons.
The entire time Leonard had been walking around, the Neurologist noted a lack of arm movement. Indeed, Leonard's arms remained lifeless, listless, and limp the entire time he walked. This notable factoid aroused my curiousity intensely.
I'd never heard of such a thing but it's evidently an "early" sign of Parkinsons.
Hmmm ...
Nothing like the experience of another to provide fodder for an education which benefits another, if one is willing to share it.
Facts attending Parkinsons:
Parkinsons is an impaired and dying nervous system being depleted of dopamine. A lack of dopamine leads to abnormal brain activity which affects muscle movement.
It's not good and it's not fun.
It's a slow robbing, head-bobbing disease of which there is no cure and still much more to learn. It's too bad they can't think of a way to package dopamine but evidently it's not a possibility yet.
Early warning signs of Parkinsons:
1) Loss of smell
Healthy "dopamine" cells are routed between the brain and nerve muscles and translate messages. If smell is lacking, it's likely dopamine is also.
2) Sleep deprived
While we all can identify and nod-off on this one from time to time, sleep disorders which accompany kicking, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea should be given proper attention. They are generally early signs, years in advance of a Parkinsons diagnosis.
3) Constipation
If constipation is added to lack of smell and sleep, it could be a cause for concern. Tell your Doctor.
4) Masked Face
"It's easiest to recognize by a slowness to smile or frown, or staring off into the distance," and accompanied by slow blinking patterns.
5) Mood Disorders
Symptoms of depression and social withdrawal are common in early Parkinsons. So are feelings of apathy, listlessness, and sadness.
6) Dizzy Spells
15 to 50 percent of Parkinsons patients experience a sudden and severe blood pressure drop which creates dizziness upon standing up. While we all are prone to experiencing this from time to time due to dehydration or standing up too quickly, the symptoms shouldn't be ignored.
Leonard's case is early and, as a result and for his good, physical activities have been ramped up and assigned him. He is to work on "fooling" his brain and rerouting faulty messages to his brain by moving his arms continually when he walks and getting much and continual exercise... anything to increase the dopamine in his cells.
He even thought a feverish and ferocious "arm swinging" walk with me might help. Ha.
 Friends and neighbors like Leonard teach us that when we learn more, we also have a tendency to love more, and are better equipped to identify and sympathize with the pain of others.
And this is what we should want at the end of the day, no Parkinsons preventing.
First we listen. 
Then we learn.
Then we love.

Are the signs evident?