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Linda Ronstadt Discusses How Parkinson's Disease Impacts Her Personally and Professionally

Linda Ronstadt

At 67, Linda Ronstadt should be celebrating the rewards of her long, illustrious career as a popular singer. Instead, she is struggling with Parkinson’s disease, which she recently revealed in an interview with AARP magazine.

Although Linda was only diagnosed eight months ago, she initially experienced symptoms eight years ago. However, at the onset of her condition, she assumed that it was caused by a tick-borne illness. She does note that after she was bitten by a tick, "My health has never recovered since then." In addition, although she had shaking in her hands symptomatic of Parkinson's, she thought it was from shoulder surgery.

“Parkinson’s is very hard to diagnose, so when I finally went to a neurologist and he said, ‘Oh, you have Parkinson’s disease,’ I was completely shocked,” Linda explained to AARP. ” I wouldn’t have suspected that in a million, billion years.” Even more shocking for this beloved singer who has produced millions of albums: She cannot sing.

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“No one can sing with Parkinson’s disease,” Linda said. “No matter how hard you try.” In fact, her problems trying to sing motivated her to seek a second diagnosis other than the ticket bite. She recognized that “there was something wrong” with her voice.

“I couldn’t sing,” she recalls, “and I couldn’t figure out why. I knew it was mechanical. I knew it had to do with the muscles, but I thought it might have also had something to do with the tick disease that I had. And it didn’t occur to me to go to a neurologist. I think I’ve had it for seven or eight years already, because of the symptoms that I’ve had. Then I had a shoulder operation, so I thought that’s why my hands were trembling.
It also impacts her ability to walk, and she uses poles or a wheelchair when she travels.

About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease ranks as one of the most common neurological diseases. What causes it: Nerve cells in the brain that manufacture dopamine are destroyed. Nerve cells use dopamine to help control muscle movement. Therefore, loss of muscle function is a common symptom of Parkinson's disease.

Other symptoms include tremor or trembling in hands or other extremities, slowness of movement, and impaired balance or coordination. No known cure exists.