Former University of Louisville professor and corporate lawyer John Baumann was emotional hearing Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. “The first thing that came to my mind was I wish there was someone there to tell him, you can live an amazing life with Parkinson’s.”
Baumann should know – he’s been living with the disease for 12 years. He was diagnosed at 41.
“I was in shock, disbelief, denial, shock whatever you want to call it,” he said of hearing the news.
He understands how the progressive disorder of the nervous system takes its toll physically and emotionally.
“I never knew depression until I got Parkinson’s,” he said. “I was driving my car one day and I went into the deepest darkest hole I’ve ever been in. I didn’t care if I lived or died, I know what it’s like to want to commit suicide.”
Baumann learned he had to take his medicine and he hasn’t had a suicidal thought since.
He also learned from celebrities like Louisville’s Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox, calling them true leaders for staying in the spotlight and making a huge impact with research, donations and inspiration.
Baumann is doing the same thing with one book out, he’s a contributor to another and he travels the country giving motivational speeches.
A life worth living with Parkinson’s, thanks to the wisdom of Jim Valvano. He lives by his words allowing three things everyday: To laugh, to learn and to be emotional.
“When someone sees what I’m doing and feels the hope and draws that from me,” Baumann said, “I give them a big hug and it’s a human connection that doesn’t have any parallel that’s to me, why I do what I do.”
Baumann’s book is titled “Decide Success: You ain’t dead yet.” He says early diagnosis is critical and believes exercise and eating right are key.
He recently became a board member for the Parkinson Support Center of Kentuckiana.