Katja Gutzeit

My Story

My name is Katja, I am 48 years old, married, I have 3 daughters and work part-time as a lawyer. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 2 years ago

My name is Katja, I am 48 years old, married, I have 3 daughters and work part-time as a lawyer. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 2 years ago. 
Luckily! Because I noticed my first symptoms already 10 years before. But from the beginning: In the year 2010 I had more and more severe headaches on the left side and an annoying buzzing in my left ear. 
I went from doctor to doctor, the headaches were diagnosed as trigeminal neuralgia, but the reason for the problems was not found for a long time. At least I ended up with an oral surgeon who told me that both of my temporomandibular joints were badly damaged. An operation was needed. The total rebuild of my jaw. 
Even a trigger for the complaints was found – a bicycle accident at the age of 6. On April 11th in the year 2011 (World Parkinson Awareness Day!) the rebuild of my jaw started with a surgery that dures nearly 5 hours. And I wasn´t prepared for the things after waking up. My healing took longer than expected. 
Today I am convinced that this trauma triggered the disease. 

Shortly after the operation, I began to feel some discomfort. First my left arm, then my whole left side felt heavier than the right. Soon there was also pain. A lot of visits to orthopedists and neurologists followed, all without results. I was given physiotherapy, massages and acupuncture. None of this was successful. 
My complaints increased, but were not visible from the outside. The doctors I consulted did not take me seriously. That was hard because I was in my early 40s, a mother of now 3 daughters and a lawyer, but in the presence of a doctor I felt helpless. I was advised to do more sports and to undergo psychotherapy. Even when my left little finger started shaking, they didn't take me seriously. I had been certified to be healthy. My body, however, signaled something completely different to me. That was a scary time, because I felt something was wrong, but I wasn't getting any help. My complaints became more and more severe, motor problems were added. But no one around me noticed the symptoms because they were very mild. But they were there. Although I was absolutely sure that my complaints were not based on psychological problems, I began psychotherapy, which lasted a total of 2 years. 
Living with the feeling of imagining, being crazy, changes you. I have felt misunderstood. And I had fear. Every day. It makes you vulnerable. Your self-confidence is lost. At last, my search for an explanation lasted 10 years. 

My diagnosis In March 2020, I suddenly could no longer type fluently with my left hand. That was the moment when even an outsider had to see that something was wrong. I made one last attempt and consulted a doctor in a nearby hospital. My husband went with me, since I no longer dared to go near a doctor alone. 
The examination by Dr. E. lasted half an hour and then she slammed the diagnosis in front of my feet. Parkinsons Disease... For me, at the very first moment, it was only one thing: relief. 
Finally, I had a name. And finally I knew what I had been fighting for so long. 

My way to deal with the disease A friend told me something that made me laugh. "When life gives you a cactus, you don´t have to sit on it." This was my lightbulb moment. Because I decided not to sit on my cactus. Sometimes it just takes the right friend with the right words. These words marked a milestone. My fighting spirit was back. It is he note of my life. After my diagnosis, "Why me?" was not a thought. Quite the opposite. It was rather the realization "Why not me?". 

Millions of people suffer from terrible diseases and the realization that on that March 10, 2020, I was not the only one to receive what was at first a devastating diagnosis took away its exclusive horror. I was and I am one of many. A member of the "neurological disorder family." I would also rather be a member of the "Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire", but in my association I have met many admirable, unique and courageous people. All these people have one thing in common. Their special view of life, as only a sick person can have it. They try to accept their fate and face it with an open mind. This takes a lot of courage. It is one of the bravest things you can face. I am blessed to have been able to meet them. In the last two years I have lived more intensively than in the last 10. 
I look for challenges (e.g. in paragliding despite my fear of heights) and take the days as they come. Maybe - for sure - Parkinson's is taking away my motor skills. But certainly not my joy in life.