LETTER: Local man raising funds/awareness for Parkinson's Disease
April is Parkinson’s Awareness month. I would like to share my story with you to hopefully help someone understand Parkinson’s disease.
In April/May 2013 noticed a couple of things with my left arm/hand. I noticed my left arm didn’t swing like normal when I walked. Also I found it took me a long time to get stuff (ball markers for golf) out of my left pocket (slower than normal). I decided I would go to my family doctor (in June), she suspected I may have Parkinson’s disease.
I had tests done to rule out other possible causes for my symptoms. There is no blood test or any test like that to diagnose PD. I went to a neurologist in September 2013 and my family doctor’s diagnosis was confirmed – I have PD.
It was a shock and a relief at the same time. Now I know what is happening and can move on. I got in touch with Parkinson’s Society of BC right away and they were very helpful. Then I joined the Trail/Castlegar Parkinson’s support group, which was awesome. We meet monthly (10 months a year) in Trail at the Colander. We are very privileged to have a physiotherapist at the Trail Regional Hospital who specializes in working with people with PD. I started attending the Parkinson’s Exercise group (facilitated by Joanne Robbins, physiotherapist) that was started up in 2014. Exercise is very important for people with PD because we need to keep our muscles moving. PD is a disease that affects a part of your brain that makes your muscles work properly (lack of dopamine in your brain). Exercise is good because it retrains our brain to maybe work differently. I was doing great (exercising, yoga, hockey, etc.) when I was first diagnosed.
Then, in 2014, around May/June, my PD medication was causing a bad side effect. I will not get into details, but I had to change my PD medication. I went into rough time for eight months or so. Not exercising. Dealing with depression – which can be part of PD. Bad apathy – which can be part of PD. A hard part with PD is that the non-motor symptoms cannot be seen but can be worse than the physical symptoms (tremors, slowness).
Another weird part was, in this eight month period Robin William committed suicide and it was reported he just found he had Parkinson’s Disease. Kind of scary.
I need to note, I told my employer I had PD as soon as I was diagnosed. I ended up taking four months off work (December 2014-April 2015). I used this time to readjust my PD medication after going to Pacific Parkinson’s Centre at UBC (went to Dr Stoesll). I got help for my depression. Started exercising again – this is a work in progress. I am participating in the Parkinson’s Society of BC Parkinson’s Movement fundraiser, my goal is to ride exercise bike and road bike 450 kilometres and raise $1,200. Also, I am doing a fundraiser in Salmo on April 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Salmo Valley Estates, 730 Railway Ave. I will be showing the DVD Undefeated, a portrait of real life people with PD.
(Ed. Note: Here’s the link to Todd’s Movie Night fundraiser Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/482527211898245/ ).