What truly matters

Although this post is not exactly about my father, his life and his condition are what have inspired me to write this.

Lately, I’ve been noticing others around me complaining. People complain about work, their friends, their house, their car..etc. I feel like a bad friend when I do not feel bad for them. The old me would certainly try to see things from their eyes, and try to find a solution to their troubles. The new me, she knows better.

My father has taught me that material things do not matter, that your job is a job, and you may or may not like it, he’s taught me that relationships sort their selves out, and every passing moment is a chance to turn things around and make them the best that they can possible be. My father has taught me that if you do not have your health, you have nothing. He has taught me that tomorrow may not come, that bad news can come to anybody, and that it truly is not necessary to sweat the small stuff. 

Dad has shown me what matters in life, and I can no longer sympathize with those who worry about things that do not matter. I do not wish sickness upon anybody, but I do wish others to view things the way I view them. Few of us stop to look at the beauty in this world, to appreciate everything we have. You take things for granted every single day, things that others do not have. You have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on the table, and a family that loves you…what more do you need? Everything else, thats just a new gift. If you do not look positively at everything you have, you will never be able to appreciate the beauty in this world. 

Sometimes I catch myself worrying about things that I know I should not worry about it. This is when I have to take a step back and look at myself in that situation. Is this worth it? Will this change my life in any way? Ask yourself these questions next time you’re worrying or frustrated. Take a step back and realize how blessed you are. How incredible this life is, and how much time you’ve wasted worrying about the small unimportant details.

Always remember what truly matters, and never forget how you got to where you are and who helped you get there.

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Time flies…

I must apologize to all of you and to my father for taking a hiatus from this blog.

I started a new job and have been trying to catch up with everything outside of work. Now that things are in order, I need to catch everyone up on my Father’s condition.

I have more detailed information that will be included in later posts. My father underwent a clinical trial at Vanderbilt University hospital in August, and the findings were rather positive. He was put on new medication, and has felt better ever since.

When I say he is better, what I truly mean is that the Parkinson’s is more manageable. However, his blood pressure is still very low, and he still complains about shortness of breath and dizziness.

I can say that I have seen improvement. Months ago I looked at my Father and my heart hurt. I saw him getting weaker and thinner, and all I wanted to do was quit my job and spend every moment I had with him. I remember a dinner months ago when Dad started improving, he told us that at his worst point he honestly thought he was going to die. He thought it was the end. I cannot even begin to describe how this completely broke my heart. My father is the strongest man I know, and for him to say those words means he really did feel like the end was near.

My next posts will go into more detail about everything they did in Vanderbilt. My dad was in the hospital for a week being monitored 24 hours a day. They were truly impressed with the entire staff, and excited to see what the future holds.


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Duke University Hospital

After about a year of tests and confused doctors, we finally heard the news from a Charlotte area neurologist who was almost positive dad had Parkinson’s. I will write a whole blog on his diagnosis later on, since it is something that all Parkinson’s patients have to go through. Parkinson’s is one of the top diseases that is misdiagnosed, but I will go into further detail about this later.

Once we heard the news about dad, we decided that we needed to look for a doctor who specialized in the disease. Our local neurologists focuses on several neurological diseases, she treated my grandmother for Alzeimers, but we decided dad deserved a specialist. After several internet searches and misleading phone calls, I ran into Dr. Burton Scott in Duke University Hospital. Once I read his credentials and spoke to nurses at his office, I presented the idea of going to Duke to my family. At that point we were desperate for more information, and dad and I set out for our first visit in December of 2010. Dr. Scott is incredible. He has been there for us throughout this entire process. He calls my father to check up on him, and he chats with my mom to ease her worries. He genuinely cares about my father, and it truly shows.

On Wednesday I am taking the day off work to drive dad to Duke. This will be his third visit with Dr. Scott since his diagnosis. I must admit our first visit was very hard for me. Its hard for a little girl who believes her dad is superman to grow up and see that he has a disease. Its very hard to come to terms with, you completely deny it when you first find out. But I have learned that we can not change our circumstances, but we can make the best of them. So we take dad to Duke because we know that he is taken care of there. We will not settle for any neurologist, we will not settle for any medical care, we seek the best for my father and that is what he will get.

If you have a loved one suffering from this disease I encourage you to seek second and third opinions. Every case is different, and every doctor has a different approach. This is probably the toughest part that comes with Parkinson’s. You must learn to be patient, and become accustomed to trial and error. We try different medications, different doses, different vitamins etc… but we know that we are working towards making my dad better. That one day we will find the perfect combination that works for him. It is a tricky disease, and it is not easy to deal with, but give the patient a chance!

My parents have always told me that if you do not have your health, you do not have anything. You could have all the money in the world, you could be extremely successful, but this means nothing if you’re ill. Parkinson’s medications are expensive, doctors visits are expensive, but never put a price on your health.

Once we return from Duke I will update on how everything went. Thank you for all your support!

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Who is Ralphy?

Dad with Frank (mustache)

I realize that several of you have had the pleasure of meeting my father, but I would like to write about him since he is the one who has inspired this blog.

I could probably write an entire book about my father. His life has taken various twists and turns. He tells us a new story every time we’re together, and I always wonder what other mysteries about him I have yet to know. He is extremely wise and very well educated. He is a businessman with impeccable street smarts. He analyzes every situation, and manages to come up with ideas and thoughts that one would never even come to think of. He’s strong and courageous, and he takes risks. He loves his family more than anything in this world, and he’s willing to do anything to make us proud.

Raphael Goldstein was born on August 4, 1947, in Alexandria, Egypt. He lived a normal life, he was a curious kid full of adventure. I do not know much about my father’s life in Egypt, however I do know it was a great life until Nasser intervened.

When my father was a young boy Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein came to power in Egypt. This became a hard time for the 75,000 Jews living in Egypt. Their businesses were seized by the government, their property confiscated, Synagogues were bombed, bank accounts were confiscated, and propaganda was made calling Jews “Thieves, Cheats, and Murderers”. My Grandfather, Magnus Goldstein, decided it would be best to flee. Ralphy would be forced to leave his home, his friends, his life. The family was not allowed to take much on their journey, only small personal belongings. My Grandmother, Gisele Goldstein, took an enormous risk upon their departure. She hid gold jewelry in her undergarments, knowing that some passengers would be strip searched. Gisele knew they would arrive at their new home with nothing, and she had to do what she could to survive. The Goldsteins embarked on a journey to Venezuela. At the time this was a prominent place to start a new life. The oil industry was booming, and Venezuela was rich.

Ralphy arrived in a new world. His father managed to find a job and a place for them to live. When they arrived they were poor. My father talks of their one bedroom apartment where they slept on cardboard. He tells us about his two pairs of pants that he proudly owned, and his new friends he would soon make for life.

My father’s greatest stories come from his life in Venezuela. As a kid he joined boy scouts, and spent his weekends on adventures. He made a group of friends “Los Panas”, guys that remain in his life to this day. These guys got into trouble together, they spent every moment they had having fun, and they are all there for each other no matter what. I envy my father, his friendships will last forever, and I hope to find friends like his.

Ralphy has been adventurous since day one. He was very active in boy scouts, played tennis, took up running, played soccer, went spearfishing, and took part in just about anything that came his way. Like I said before, I could write a book about this!

Ralphy went to college in Georgia, and moved back to Venezuela to start a career. He was a marketing executive, and worked for companies like Quaker Oats and Unilever. No matter where he was, he still kept active and always managed to get some tennis in. He met my mother at a fitness club in Caracas, she was walking, he was jogging…a match made in heaven! They began to date and I guess the rest is history. They got married and moved in to a beautiful house in Caracas. My mom was very supportive of my dad, cheering him on in all of his tennis matches, and joining him on his fishing adventures (we will always hear about her terrible bout of seasickness on an adventure to Tortuga…my father ended up throwing her in the ocean to calm her down!) They had my sister and two years later they had me.

We had a wonderful life in Venezuela. We went to the beach every weekend, and had a great group of friends. Our culture values family more than anything else, and I have always appreciated this. As my sister and I got older, Venezuela got worse. It was growing more and more corrupt, and Ralphy knew he had to do something.

Once again Ralphy would have to pick up and leave. He analyzed everything, but at the end of the day he knew that his daughters meant the world to him, and he would do anything to keep them safe. He had a conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, and fell in love with it while he was there. He imagined a life where his daughters could play outside without worry of being kidnapped. A life where his wife could drive down a busy street with her windows down, knowing that no one would try to take her Ray Bans off her face like the motorcyclist did in Caracas. He knew this was the right choice to take.

A year later we packed up our lives and we headed for North Carolina. Once again Ralphy had to start over.

We have been in Charlotte for 16 years now. For most of those years my father woke up early every morning to run. He had his weeknights filled with tennis matches, and urged us to go on adventures on the weekends. We took hiking trips, and an unforgettable father- daughter camping trip.

Ralphy has been active his entire life. He is extremely driven, and will not allow anyone or anything to get in his way. He lives for his two daughters, and would do anything for them. He is the greatest father that a girl could ask for. And this is why I write this, and this is why I am so eager to search for a cure. My father deserves the very best and only the best, and by spreading this message, all of you can help us get there!


Thank you!

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I must first begin by thanking those that have left comments and read my blog. I am truly shocked to see how much feedback I have received in a matter of hours. So thank you all!

Before I get into all of the details of my father’s illness, I’d like to cover one specific issue…

I urge all of you not to pity me or feel sorry for me and my family. Yes, my father’s disease is a misfortune, but it will not slow us down. I was apprehensive about starting a blog for this very reason. My family does not want anyone to feel bad for us. We understand that every single day is a gift, and we have no idea what the world may hand us tomorrow.

Yes, we are sad. Yes, it’s hard. But we have been blessed with so much in our lives, that we refuse to allow this disease to get the best of us. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, I have the most incredible and supportive family. We have gone through so much together, and we continue to welcome whatever happens next. I have millions of memories with my father, and many more to come. Pity, regret, sadness, anger, all of these emotions will not make Ralphy get better. My family is strong, we are positive, and we know that we will fight this fight.

So I urge you please do not pity us.

I know all of us wonder why bad things happen to good people, but there is no guidebook to life. I look at my father’s illness and there is no way of making any sense of it. What I can do is look for the positive, a somewhat challenging task. Since my father’s diagnosis, he has reunited with friends from his childhood. He has had long lost “brothers” fly in from as far as Panama and Venezuela to see him. Who knows if he would have ever had the chance to be reunited with these friends in different circumstances.

We have also learned a lot from this adventure. I personally feel that I have learned not to sweat the small stuff, and to try to appreciate every second of every day. There is no need to stress about unnecessary small things, step back and remember how lucky you are to be here in this moment.


Thank you all again for the support! It truly means so much!


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This is my dad back in the day, he was a tennis pro!

My name is Stephanie Goldstein.

My father has Parkinson’s disease.

In an effort to educate others on my dad’s disease, I have decided to start a blog.

I have called it “Ralphy’s Run”. My father’s name is Raphael, his friends tend to call him Ralphy, so I thought it was a great name. There is more meaning to it, my father loved to run. Before his diagnosis he ran every morning. He ran on vacation, he ran when he was sick, he ran whenever he got the chance to run, and now we run for him. Ralphy’s Run is my best effort to educate and keep running for a cure.

Along with Parkinson’s, my father also has Dysautonomia. A rare disorder of the autonomic nervous system. Most physicians view dysautonomia in terms of failure of the sympathetic or parasympathetic components of the autonomic nervous system. My father’s symptoms are dizziness, excessive fatigue, lightheadedness, extremely low blood pressure, and shortness of breath. These symptoms have forced him to change his daily routine, and do not allow him to exercise like he used to. This has been hard on all of us, but especially on my father.

Like Parkinson’s, dysautonomia has no cure. It is rare and there is not a lot of research being done, so here is where this blog and Ralphy’s Run comes in. With this blog I hope to educate more people on Dysautonomia. My goal is to turn Ralphy’s Run into a non-profit organization to help those dealing with this disease.

My father will never stop running to find a cure, and I pledge to be right by his side throughout every step.

You can help. Please pass this on and urge your friends and family to follow my blog. I promise to keep posting and updating everyone throughout this journey.

Thank you!


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