Pushing Through Parkinson’s Disease

Being a podiatrist, Beth Hochstein knew the usual routine of treating an ankle sprain; she found it a bit strange that her own ankle would lock in a bad position. Months later, she noticed her hand shaking. “Too much coffee,” she thought as she dismissed her symptoms, but her friends and family noticed it too. So, she decided to see a doctor who further examined her and diagnosed her with Parkinson’s disease.

“How is this possible?” Beth thought to herself, “Parkinson’s? I could easily recognize the disease in my older patients, but I was only 36!  I got into my car after that doctor’s visit and immediately lost it.”

Beth thought about drowning in her sorrows, but she thought of her husband and children and how they needed her–she had to stay strong for them. So, she kept going, and life remained mostly the same, except she now had a medication schedule to fit into her day. She started working with a personal trainer, and kept her head high, only telling family and very close friends about her diagnosis.

After a few years, things became more difficult and sleeping was a challenge. Some days it was hard for Beth to wake up and take her life-saving pills.  Seeing Beth struggle on one difficult morning her husband said, “Why don’t you call it quits on your own terms instead of the disease pushing you out?”

And that was the beginning of a new life for Beth. She quit her day job as a Podiatrist, and decided it was time to start checking off items on her bucket list. She went back to dancing school, the exact place where she danced 30 years ago. She picked up her old love of tap dancing, and upon the recommendation from a friend, Beth tried her first Zumba class. She was instantly addicted. “It took me away from my problems for one hour,” she recalled.

Beth went to Zumba class religiously, eventually becoming a licensed Zumba instructor. “I not only found a great and fun way to exercise that always seemed to free up motion for me, but I was adopted into what I now call the ‘Zumba Family’,” Beth recalled. “My Zumba family has always been there, cheering for me even when the right side of my body felt like bricks,” she continued.

Over the past four years, Beth has raised over $80,000 for Parkinson’s research and her classes seem to improve movement in all of the participants.

“Everyone calls me inspirational; I don’t feel inspirational, I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help find a cure. I fear for what the future holds, but I take one day at a time, and hope for the best and for a cure!”