Newtown resident Kevin Peyton will be signing copies of his autobiography “Thumb’s Up!” this Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Green Parrot.
Peyton, 45, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at the age of 26. "Thumbs Up!" talks about his experience with the disease and how he has remained positive through its challenges.
Books will be available for purchase at the event. The book can also be purchased online by clicking here.
In September, Newtown Patch’s Nicole Buten sat down with Peyton to discuss the book and his reasons for writing it.
Here’s what he said:
Patch: How do you keep your optimism in the face of difficult circumstances?
Peyton: From the time I was diagnosed, I have luckily been able to maintain a positive attitude. Were there times that I felt sorry for myself? There absolutely have been but it never lasted long. What works for me is just talking to myself. I just stop thinking about Parkinson’s disease and say to myself, 'Stop moping around. Go live your life and be a positive influence on society.'
Pat Croce, a very successful business man in Philadelphia and motivational speaker has a saying, 'Be a fountain, not a drain.' In other words, be positive. Michael J. Fox has a great line that he throws at his kids. He says, 'Choose to have a great day!' I really believe in this one. Life is a choice and your choices change every day but how you react to the events that occur will define you as a person.
Patch: For 20 years you have survived this disease. What are the milestones you are most proud of during that time?
Peyton: I think the biggest milestones that I have passed have to do with the progression of the disease. As my condition worsened to the point of shuffling my feet, cramping feet every day etc., I stayed positive. I decided to have the Deep Brain Stimulator procedure done because I was looking for relief from the tremors and dyskinesias. I was 42 at the time of the procedure.
The fact that my father died at age 50 made me think about life in general. So, I decided to make the upcoming years as good as possible. What a relief it was when I saw and felt pretty much normal, from a physical standpoint, for the first time in almost 20 years. The Deep Brain Stimulator procedure had been available for approximately 10 years before I went through with it. I think that the decision to have it done is probably the milestone of which I am most proud.
Patch: In your book, 'Thumbs Up,' you share humorous stories about people's reactions when you meet them. Can you share your favorite story with us?
Peyton: My favorite story is the one on my sister’s wedding day. I was standing outside the Ritz Hotel in Philadelphia waiting for my sister to come out so we could get in the limousine and go to the church. Well, I was having a really bad day with the tremors, especially with my left arm and hand. So this guy walks by looks at me shaking in my tuxedo, looks in and sees my sister inside the hotel, then turns and looks at me again. With a big smile on his face and says, 'Man, you must be the groom, you’re shaking like a leaf! You’ll be alright.'
Patch: What things have you learned about yourself since this diagnosis that have surprised you?
Peyton: Outside of the scientific perspective, where I can’t believe that one tiny area in our brains that produces dopamine can affect so many parts of your body, I learned about my ability to handle adversity and how I have been able to stay positive with this disease. Physically and mentally, I have definitely changed for the worse. I have come to peace with the fact that I have Parkinson’s disease.
I was on the internet for a long time almost every day, when I was first diagnosed. I was hoping for a miracle -- or at least a medical breakthrough -- but found neither. It seems like it was an exercise that I had to go through in order to accept my condition. I still try to keep up to date, but I don’t check very often anymore.
Patch: How has your diagnosis affected your beliefs about life, death and spirituality?
Peyton: I don’t think they have been affected at all, at least not by much. From a spiritual side, I found that I don’t feel right praying for a cure. I just pray to help me handle whatever is thrown my way. My views on life changed in the sense that I think you have to live for the moment. You may not be here tomorrow, as horrible as that sounds. Tell the ones you love that you love them, spend time with your family and friends and enjoy life.
Patch: Do you believe that research will find a cure for Parkinson's during your lifetime?
Peyton: Yes, they are learning more and more about the brain every day. If they don’t find a cure, they will find something that will at least make a Parkinson’s patient feel cured. In other words, I may still have the lack of dopamine cells in my brain, but some new medication or procedure will make me feel as if my dopamine levels are normal. I would love to be able to improve my speech.
Patch: What is your advice to people dealing with challenges related to chronic illnesses?
Peyton: Stay positive and stay active. A lot depends on the illness. I do think that having faith provides you with hope. Hope can get you through the tough times.