Tennessee Man Eats Cereal From Bowl For First Time In 7 Years Thanks To Parkinson’s Research
Heart-warming footage has emerged showing the moment a man with Parkinson’s disease eats cereal from a bowl for the first time in seven years, thanks to revolutionary research he says has changed his life.
Justin Fields, from Knoxville, Tennessee, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2016, but had been battling the disease for several years before his diagnosis, having previously been told he had essential tremor (ET) and epilepsy.
After years of living with symptoms such as constant tremors, which meant he could no longer eat in public, play sports or even cook, the 35-year-old underwent deep brain stimulation (DBS) to help improve his movement – and the results are incredible.
Check out the emotional moment Justin was able to eat from a bowl for the first time in almost a decade:
Despite being misdiagnosed for a number of years, Justin never gave up and eventually travelled more than two hours to a regional medical facility to undergo a DaTscan, which ultimately confirmed he had Parkinson’s.
‘Most Parkinson’s patients my age have issues getting diagnosed properly,’ Justin told UNILAD. ‘[This] leads to many years of misdiagnosis, which could be very harmful to the individual’s health.’
He explained this is the reason he is ‘so open’ about his diagnosis, especially considering most people ‘do not typically identify Parkinson’s disease with younger individuals’ – despite around one in 20 people with the condition first experiencing symptoms before they’re 40.
Part of him being so open includes uploading pictures and videos of his own experience on social media, which is where the cereal bowl footage comes into play.
In the video, filmed by his fiancée Emily Norris, Justin can first be seen trying to eat from the bowl without the use of his deep brain stimulator – a device that helps people with Parkinson’s by using electrical stimulation to help improve communication between the brain cells.
As he did so, he could be seen struggling to control his movements as a result of his involuntary tremors, with the 35-year-old taking several attempts to get the spoon in his mouth. Justin then demonstrated the effectiveness of his DPS by switching it on, after which his tremors quickly stopped and he was able to eat his cereal with ease.
Since being shared on TikTok, the video has gone viral with tens of thousands of people wishing him well and others in similar situations thanking Justin for giving them hope.
‘[The response has] been amazing, insightful and humbling,’ Justin explained. ‘I’ve always had a very strong support network in my local community and through my friends group, but the one thing I did not expect was the outpouring of individuals sharing their stories back with me and supporting me.’
I have been able to share my message of advocating for yourself with millions of people, and help people realise that even with times being tough for everyone, never forget the little things.
So what exactly is DBS, and how did it impact Justin’s life? First and foremost, it’s a surgical procedure that involves implanting electrodes into your brain. These electrodes are sent signals via a handheld device, which interacts with the DBS device implanted into the chest.
Once the signal is established, Justin is able to turn his DBS up and down – or even on and off, as demonstrated in the now-viral video. ‘For me personally, the device works to control the tremors in my extremities,’ he explained.
Since undergoing the surgery, Justin has seen major improvements in his day-to-day life, describing DBS as ‘life-changing’ as it’s allowed him to stop taking medication for Parkinson’s, which saw him taking up to nine pills a day.
That isn’t the only impact the surgery has had on his life though, with Justin telling UNILAD:
So far, I’ve been able to eat many foods I was too embarrassed to eat in public and play sports I wasn’t able to play anymore. Since the tremors have stopped, the rigidity in my body has subsided, so I have been able to be a lot more active.
The one thing that has been most impactful to me is being able to cook again. As the symptoms progressed, I was able to do less and less in the kitchen, until I wasn’t comfortable cooking at all.
Now that I am able to use my hands, I am slowly working on the motor skills required to cook properly and be able to use sharp objects again, without having to worry about trips to the emergency room.
Justin said it’s ‘difficult to put into words exactly what getting these small aspects of my life back really mean to me’, so much so that if he stops to think about it it ‘sets [him] back’.
He described himself as ‘very lucky’ for having such a strong support network and a ‘wonderful’ team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, saying it leaves him ‘speechless’ when he realises how far he’s come.
‘I try to take my success with these small things in [my] stride and show them to as many people as I can so that the small things aren’t taken for granted,’ he added.
What an incredible man. We wish Justin the very best with his journey and we hope to see more inspirational videos soon.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]