Lo­cal Parkin­son’s chap­ter help­ing and ed­u­cat­ing oth­ers

The Compass - - OPINION - BYDENISE PIKE

Mayor John Drover was at the coun­cil ta­ble in Spa­niard’s Bay ear­lier this month sign­ing a procla­ma­tion to kick off April as Parkin­son’s Aware­ness month. The pro­vin­cial Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety in con­junc­tion with the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Parkin­son’s Sup­port Group spon­sored the April 7 event.

Spa­niard’s Bay res­i­dents Ros­alind and Ron Men­chions; June Hunt, chair­woman of the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Chap­ter of the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety; John Ni­choll, co-chair and Pa­tri­cia Mor­ris­sey, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety New­found­land and Labrador (PSNL) were also on hand for the sign­ing.

PSNL is the pro­vin­cial voice of peo­ple liv­ing with Parkin­son’s in the prov­ince. Its pur­pose is to ease the bur­den and find a cure through re­search, ed­u­ca­tion, ad­vo­cacy and sup­port ser­vices.

“A lot of things have changed and there is more aware­ness of Parkin­son’s,” said Mor­ris­sey. “How­ever there are still a lot of peo­ple who don’t un­der­stand the dis­ease. We’re us­ing this month to cre­ate aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing.”

Symp­toms

Parkin­son’s dis­ease ( PD) be­longs to a group of con­di­tions called mo­tor sys­tem dis­or­ders, which are the re­sult of the loss of dopamine-pro­duc­ing brain cells. The dis­ease can cause trem­bling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face, stiff­ness of the limbs and trunk, or slow­ness of move­ment, in­sta­bil­ity, or poor co­or­di­na­tion. As th­ese symp­toms be­come more pro­nounced, pa­tients may have dif­fi­culty walk­ing, talk­ing or com­plet­ing other sim­ple tasks. Early symp­toms of PD are sub­tle and oc­cur grad­u­ally. In some peo­ple the dis­ease pro­gresses more quickly than in oth­ers. As the dis­ease pro­gresses, the shak­ing, which af­fects the ma­jor­ity of PD pa­tients, may be­gin to in­ter­fere with daily ac­tiv­i­ties. Other symp­toms may in­clude de­pres­sion, emo­tional changes; dif­fi­culty in swal­low­ing, chew­ing, and speak­ing; uri­nary prob­lems, con­sti­pa­tion, skin prob­lems and sleep dis­rup­tions.

There are cur­rently no blood or lab­o­ra­tory tests to con­firm whether or not some­one has Parkin­son’s dis­ease, there­fore di­ag­no­sis is based on med­i­cal his­tory and a neu­ro­log­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion. Doc­tors may some­times re­quest brain scans or lab­o­ra­tory tests in or­der to rule out other dis­eases.

Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Chair­woman June Hunt and vice chair­man John Ni­choll say Parkin­son’s is a frus­trat­ing dis­ease. Hunt’s hus­band Ray­mond passed away from com­pli­ca­tions caused by the dis­ease seven years ago. Ni­choll’s wife Theresa was di­ag­nosed with it 15 years ago.

“Peo­ple can have some of the symp­toms for years be­fore they be­come no­tice­able,” says Ni­choll. “And it usu­ally takes a doc­tor a long time to di­ag­nose the dis­ease. Some­times they get it right and some­times they get it wrong. What makes the dis­ease even more frus­trat­ing is that some­times a per­son will be able to do some­thing such as reach out and pick up a glass and then a few min­utes later they may not be able to. It can be con­fus­ing and fright­en­ing. Doc­tors give a di­ag­no­sis of Parkin­son’s af­ter other con­di­tions are ruled out. Ba­si­cally it’s a process of elim­i­na­tion whereby doc­tors de­ter­mine that it is not some other dis­ease be­fore say­ing it is Parkin­son’s.

Hunt says peo­ple are be­com­ing more ed­u­cated about the dis­ease.

“Gone are the days when peo­ple looked as Parkin­son’s as be­ing an old per­son dis­ease,” she says. “It can af­fect peo­ple even as young as 30 or 40, how­ever the av­er­age age of on­set is 60.”

Ded­i­cated vol­un­teer

The April 7 event also pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity for the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety to rec­og­nize the work of long time vol­un­teer Hazel Worth­man of Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton.

“Hazel has been a val­ued mem­ber of the TC group since it was founded in 1992 and has served on the ex­ec­u­tive as well,” says Hunt. “She has given many hours to help­ing oth­ers af­fected by the dis­ease.”

“ The ef­forts of vol­un­teers like Hazel, June and John is vi­tal to the sur­vival of a small char­ity such as the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety,” added Mor­ris­sey who pre­sented Worth­man with a Vol­un­teer of the Year award. “ We wouldn’t be able to ex­ist without them.”

This year marks the twenty-sec­ond year of the Parkin­son’s chap­ter in Trin­ity Con­cep­tion.

The group pro­vides in­for­ma­tion and emo­tional sup­port to peo­ple in the area af­fected by Parkin­son’s. Mem­bers also at­tend in­for­ma­tion ses­sions and some­times in­vite speak­ers to their meet­ings, which are held on the sec­ond Tues­day of each month from 2 to 4 p.m. in the board­room of the In­ter­faith Cit­i­zens Home in Carbonear.

Ac­cord­ing to Hunt the group isn’t just about fundrais­ing or shar­ing in­for­ma­tion.

“ We have lots of fun too,” she says. “ We have about 18 mem­bers and meet­ings are held from Oc­to­ber to May, but we also get to­gether other times as well such as at Christ­mas and dur­ing the sum­mer. The meet­ings are both in­for­ma­tional and ther­a­peu­tic be­cause it gives those who want to a chance to sit and talk with some­one else who has been af­fected by the dis­ease. We’re do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to help and ed­u­cate oth­ers.”

PROCLAMTION SIGN­ING - Ron Men­chions, left and his wife Ros­alind of Spanaird’s Bay, look on as the town’s Mayor, John Drover signs the procla­ma­tion of­fi­cially declar­ing April as Parkin­son’s Aware­ness Month. June Hunt, chair­woman of the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion Chap­ter of the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety; John Ni­choll, co-chair and Pa­tri­cia Mor­ris­sey, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety New­found­land and Labrador (PSNL) also at­tended the April 7 event.

DED­I­CATED VOL­UN­TEER - Pa­tri­cia Mor­ris­sey, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety New­found­land and Labrador (PSNL) presents Hazel Worth­man of Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton with a Vol­un­teer of the Year award. Worth­man has given count­less hours to the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion chap­ter of the New­found­land and Labrador Parkin­son’s So­ci­ety.

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