Updated 01/11/2013 06:51 PM
Amsterdam PD recruit battles back after illness to join force
Dozens of new recruits are taking their place among the brothers and sisters in blue. But, one young graduate had to battle back from a debilitating illness to get there. Our Lori Chung tell us it was his lifelong dream to wear a badge and a lifesaving surgery that made this once in a lifetime moment possible.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- "It's a big moment and I've been waiting for this my whole life," said Michael Palmerino, 23.
It's a dream fulfilled. But for Palmerino, the journey to this moment was hard fought and filled with hurdles. Chief among them was a rare, debilitating illness.
"At times I couldn't talk, I couldn't chew or swallow food, [and] I lost a lot of weight."
Two years ago, Palmerino was suddenly stopped in his tracks, and doctor after doctor failed to figure out the problem.
"They really just didn't know what was wrong with him," said Connie Palmerino, Michael's mother. "Every time tests came back negative they'd go to something worse."
Until finally a trip to Albany Med brought a diagnosis.
"'[It's called] myasthenia gravis, it's an auto immune disease," said Dr. Rose Domingo, a neurologist at Albany Medical Center. "He could not close his eyes [and] he was unable to drink out of a straw."
Palmerino's condition could have become permanent if left untreated.
"He underwent a minimally thymectomy here at Albany Medical Center," said Dr. Domingo. "He's basically in remission at this point."
"It was scary when it was going on, we thought we were losing him," said Joseph Palmerino, Michael's father.
His family is - no surprise - relieved. Palmerino will now join the Amsterdam Police Department.
"It's been a wish and a dream to work there, to follow in my father's footsteps," said Palmerino.
And, to hear his father, a recently retired Amsterdam detective tell it, it seems the stars continue to align for his son.
"In our department when someone retires, the badges get passed on, and the other crazy thing was the next badge that was available to take was mine," said the elder Palmerino.
The disease is now behind him. Even a broken foot during training couldn't stop his momentum. Palmerino's life's mission clear and this part of it achieved.
"It was a calling and I belong here."