John Proios was a healthy man who used to sell insurance. He had a well-paid job and a vibrant life until he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at 55.
“First thing I sense is that when I was typing on the keyboard, my left pinky would not type,” Proios said.
At the time he didn’t take it seriously. However, Proios told his friend, a neurologist, and he recommended that Proios see a local medical specialist.
Going to the doctor, he did not know his life would change forever. Proios was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and for him the diagnostic was surreal.
“I was upset and I was scared,” Proios said.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic movement disorder with an unknown cause and no cure. Nearly 1 million Americans live with the chronic disease.
Since his diagnosis, Proios has dealt with depression for 10 years.
“Depression just stops you from living. You don’t want to,” said Proios. “You think in your brain you should want to do this — I should get up, get up, I should go out, I should ride my bike and I should exercise. Well, I don’t want to.”
But Proios said these days are the best he’s ever had after 10 years of Parkinson’s disease and depression.
“Depression is very common in Parkinson’s disease,”said Robert Hauser, a USF Health doctor who specializes in Parkinson’s. “It affects about 50 percent of the patients sometime in the course of the disease. And it is taught that a lot of that has to do with chemical changes in the brain.”