Michael’s Rehab StoryMay 28, 2019
March 18, 2019
Michael’s advice to those suffering from Parkinson’s disease is simple: “Work Hard and Don’t Quit.”
Michael Davis, 51, of Talladega began his journey with the Citizens Baptist Medical Center rehab team in late 2018 after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease on October 8, 2018.
“I’m on a roll today!” Michael said to his physical therapist Brittany Bowlin as he proudly performed various exercises designed to strengthen his legs.
Parkinson’s is a brain-related disease, which results in the loss of brain cells and can impact limb movement and balance. Unfortunately, in addition to mobility issues, Michael has also lost sight in one of his eyes, but he doesn’t let that stop him.
For the past 20 years, Michael has lived with his younger sister Tracy Atkinson, 45, who has served as his caregiver. She began to notice some things he did that were out of the ordinary and she became concerned.
“He was showing signs maybe two to three years ago but we thought it was maybe arthritis or something like that. We just didn’t know what it was because he is the first one in our family to have it,” Tracy said.
Tracy, who also works full time, has a long history of standing in the shoes of the caregiver after caring for family members with diseases ranging from cancer to dementia.
So she had some advice for caregivers, “You just got to love your family and pray every day. Lots and lots of prayer. And, take time for yourself…a little peace and quiet time.”
For Michael, therapy days bring him so much joy. His sister said oftentimes she sees his excitement before they even leave the house because when she comes home he is there waiting for her on their porch.
“He would say, ‘I’m ready to go see Ms. Brittany and Ms. Erica now!’ He would be sitting on his walker on the porch ready to go see them. Just look at that smile,” she said looking at her brother interact with physical therapist assistants Erica Williamson and Brittany.
Whether it’s with jokes or just extending a loving hand of care, Tracy said the team definitely spoils Michael and it’s the little things they do that make a big difference.
“Oh God I just have to say everyone has been super awesome! They spoil him. Erica, Brittany and Ragan have worked so well with him. All three of them have been a God-send,” she said.
Not only has Tracy had to care for many in her family, she’s also had to fight for her health as well. Exactly four years prior to Michael’s Parkinson’s diagnosis, Tracy received news she had uterine cancer.
“If she can beat cancer, I can beat this!” Michael said. Though there is no cure for Parkinson’s, Michael plans to do all he can to keep fighting this disease.
“He has really improved since he has been in therapy. He came in relying on his walker, but now he can go outside and walk more without it,” Brittany said. “We love working with Michael, he’s such a joy.”
With a smile and a sincere heart, Michael said he only wants one thing, “I want to be a role model for people with Parkinson’s. I want to encourage and inspire them that all you need to do is work hard and don’t quit,” he said.