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Baseball Legend Kirk Gibson Has Parkinson's Disease, Says It is Not a Death Sentence

By Thomas Swan t.swan@classicalite.com on Nov 11, 2015 01:46 AM EST

In April of this year, 58 year old baseball legend, Kirk Gibson, he of the dramatic home run against Dennis Eckersley, revealed that he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The disease, which was brought to the nation's attention when actor Michael J. Fox went public that he had been diagnosed with it, is a neurological condition that attacks cells in that produce a chemical called dopamine, which aid in mobility.

An simple example of dopamine at work - Do you know when you are making out with a partner and you 're really starting to get into it? That is dopamine flooding into your brain. You have extra movement. There is no pain. You are Superman or woman.

Afterwards, as you lie there, you feel like you've been ran over by a semi. Why is that? The high you were expericing has worn off because the dopamine has been used up. Dopamine gets released by the brain for a myriad of different reasons and at different times. Lack of it can cause a number of problems. A person could have trouble walking, speaking and stiffening of their extremities. On occasionals, cognitive issues occur. Sufferers become slow in the transfer of the thought from brain to mouth.

There is no need for me to quote a dictionary or a medical website about these symptoms because I am aware of them first hand, as I have Parkinson's as well. As Kirk Gibson said it is not a death sentence but it is not without its perils. For one, the most common treatment is a synthetic drug called carbidopa-levodopa. It manufactures dopamine but is not cheap.

Another peril is the emotional toll it can take on a person who has it. No one can truly understand the amount of emotional miles a Parkinson's patient travels in any given day. You become two people. The happy-go-lucky person who feels indestructable. You take on tasks right and left because you can. And then it happens. For whatever reason, you fall into a Parkinson's Lull, as my neurologist, terms it. The pep, the can-do is gone. The free fall can be bottomless, as Robin Williams proved. That is the dark side of the disease and it is something that has to be dealt with daily. That dark passenger, sorry Dexter, would rather give up or jettison important things that the true you cherishes.

Kirk Gibson deserves the last word, ""I have faced many different obstacles in my life, and have always maintained a strong belief that no matter the circumstances, I could overcome those obstacles. While this diagnosis poses a new kind of challenge for me, I intend to stay true to my beliefs. With the support of my family and friends, I will meet this challenge with the same determination and unwavering intensity that I have displayed in all of my endeavors in life. I look forward to being back at the ballpark as soon as possible."

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TagsKirk Gibson, Kirk Gibson Parkinson's Disease, Baseball Manager Has Parkinson's, Michael J Fox, Symptoms of Parkinson's, Not a Death Sentence

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