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April Parkinson's Spotlight

Learn more about William Tuthill

April Parkinson's Spotlight

This month, I have had the pleasure to interview William Tuthill. William is the President of the Capital District Parkinson’s Support Group. William is originally from Exeter, NH but we can thank his husband for bringing him to the Capital District! William moved to the Capital District in 1996. He worked in journalism and felt lucky that he had a job that celebrated his curiosities. He also worked as a professional chef and an arts administrator. Throughout the years he has been an active volunteer for community organizations in the musical, theatrical, Lesbian/Gay, and PD support areas, among others.

Like many people with PD, William retired from work after his diagnosis in 2017. When he looks back, he can see his symptoms start 15 years or more before his diagnosis, specifically loss of sense of smell. In 2015, William began to experience tremors on his left side, reduced executive function and cognitive sharpness, and debilitating depression and anxiety. William shared that he also experienced apathy, panic attacks, and a sense of uselessness and futility. He was treated for his depression with some success, which then gave him more clarity to realize all the other symptoms he was experiencing. I think many of you can share his experience with searching for a diagnosis – dismissing early signs and symptoms of PD because of some other health condition or even experiencing nonmotor symptoms well before motor symptoms.

Soon after his diagnosis, William became involved with the CDPSG as a general member. He was drawn to the support group because he felt like he could just “walk into a meeting and know I do not have to explain anything.”  William shared how he could remember “the empowering, not-alone feeling of walking into my first meeting.” Like many people, William had some resistance towards joining the support group. Part of him did not want to be reminded of the disease, but he felt like that wasn’t enough to keep him from going. One day, Jud and Nancy Eson asked him to be the president, he said yes, and the rest is history.

Each month, William looks forward to learning new things from the guest speakers, seeing familiar faces, and watching how people are experiencing the “gifts of gratitude and empathy that PD can bring.” William says that support groups really are what you make of them and that they are only as strong as the people in them. He made sure to stress that he doesn't like telling people to join support groups, because everyone handles life battles differently. Just know that a supportive environment in the Capital District is there if you need it.

William shared that sometimes when trying to live well with PD, he gets into his head with worry and projecting the future. "It is the catastrophe train and I decide to get on." William tries to allow himself to feel the emotions in the moment instead of forcing them out. William said living well with PD means acceptance. “It is not a once-and-done thing, of course. Some days, I don’t have acceptance of my PD, and I suffer more for it. Other days, even if I’m upset or angry about the PD, if I recognize the upset or the anger — allow it to be and yes, accept it, I can have serenity that day.”

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