April has been noted as Parkinson’s Awareness Month. According to the facts, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year, and this number does not reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected. An estimated seven to ten million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease and there has not been a determined cure, however, there is a super amount of information available regarding the disorder.
According to research, Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As Parkinson’s progresses the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving the individual unable to control movement normally.
In Moses Lake the hearts of many people have created a Support Group and they meet at Samaritan Hospital on the fourth floor at 12:45 every 2nd Monday of the month. The Parkinson’s Support Group in Moses Lake shares information, provides mutual support, discusses coping skills, shares educational information and provides a safe and non-threatening place to get together with people who understand as well as are dealing with the challenges and the victories of Parkinson’s. Following the local support group meeting a free Educational TeleHealth Presentation is presented also at Samaritan Hospital at 2pm.
Another support service available in Moses Lake is Physical Therapy. Steve Roylance and David Jensen at Columbia Physical Therapy are introducing a program called LSVT- BIG. This is a type of therapy that is designed for people with Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions.
“You have Parkinson’s”
Let’s hear from local people who have heard these words
“Do you remember hearing those words for the first time? No one is ever prepared,” states Sandee Estoos. “My husband Norm and I heard these very words about ten years ago. We started with getting on the internet and researching, asking questions, trying to find the neurologist that would be a good fit with us. Once we found our Doc, we started in! We found out that early motor signs of PD can be subtle, and individuals with these symptoms may not need medical attention for several years. Early motor symptoms in PD usually involve one side of the body for a few years before spreading to the other side. Typical early signs can be mild rigidity that is only noticeable when walking or running, when one arm does not swing as much as the other. Decreased facial expressions can develop. Voice may soften which patients’ sometimes first notice with singing, playing a wind or brad musical instrument, or public speaking. Handwriting can also become smaller and more illegible, and patients may notice increased difficulty signing their name. In the early stages and middle stages of the disease course, many patients endorse mild cognitive symptoms such as more difficulty multitasking, and short term working memory issues such as remembering a phone number or a shopping list. We discovered several people in Moses Lake and around the area with Parkinson’s and decided to form a support group. We have found out that we are all walking in the same shoes. It is good to know you’re not alone. If your family member or someone you may know has PD, family members and care takers are all invited. It’s an informative time. After getting this information about PD my husband and I decided to take one step one day at a time. The last ten years has passed quickly. He is on good meds, sees his neurologist every three to four months, gets lots of exercise, rest and eats a healthy diet. Would you like to connect with another person in a situation similar to your own . Each person is different. Bring a friend and come join our Peer-to-Peer Parkinson’s support program,” Sandee encourages.
“I want to encourage anyone affected by Parkinson’s to reach out to others in the same boat,” stated Joanne Syre. “I was diagnosed in 1997 and at the time Moses Lake was short on specialists. Dr. Leiv Kvamme referred me to Wenatchee Valley Clinic and they referred me to the University of Washington. I have been fortunate to have had neurologist, Dr. Phillip Swanson for over 35 years. Our support group in Moses Lake is growing; both in numbers and in the kinds of support offered in other areas. We are learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t, “she stated. “We are a group of people that care for each other and help spread the word. Moses Lake’s support group offers encouragement and help to patients, spouses, families, care partners and friends. There is no need to face Parkinson’s alone and we would love to have you join us. One thing that is helping me to be stronger and feel better is daily swimming. Myself and my care partner go as often as possible to a local pool in Moses Lake and after swimming 20 laps a day and doing a half hour of exercises in the pool we hit the hot tub and not only to relax, but continue to do voice exercises and joint exercises. My Physical Therapist agrees that I am getting stronger in my movements and it is a delight. Swimming is one of the best exercises that have helped me to grow in strength and maintain, “she remarked.
“Being part of the Parkinson’s Support group has been very helpful to me,” Kathy Snyder affirmed. “I see some in the group that have more problems with Parkinson’s than I do and some with less. It helps all of us to be together and to help each other. We share anything new we have learned about the disease and what meds we are on. I feel very fortunate not to be crippled by my disease and it was such a surprise to me when I was diagnosed in 2008. I try to concentrate on the things that matter and be thankful for my life. The positive things going for me are (my husband) who is my caregiver, my great physicians, our group and my medications.
One of the most important things that are helping me is my exercise classes. My choice is Jazzercise which I try to attend five times a week. It’s fun and productive and it keeps my muscles loose and helps with balance and coordination. I leave with good feelings and my Neurologist said exercise is as important as the medications I take and I think she is correct,” Kathy detailed.
“I was diagnosed with a Parkinsonian Tremor on May 28th, 2013 by a very positive Movement Disorder Specialist,” Dee Schwab, shared. “He encouraged me to stay active to slow the progression of symptoms. Pedaling for Parkinson, is a great program and I use it to relieve stiffness,” Dee commented. “Forty minutes a day pedaling a bike at 80 to 90 RPM’s creates a deep brain stimulation that relieves symptoms. I also am planning on applying to be a part of a Michael J. Fox ongoing research in which I would wear a wrist tremor monitor that can track people’s movements and how they manage the condition,” she expressed. “Our local support team is very important to me and others in our community.”
Additionally, one of the most joyful volunteer support activities in our community is the sing along chorus group called, “Whispering Hope”, made up of people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, spouses, family members, care partners, friends and volunteers. Mary Froese is the awesome piano player for this group and they meet on Wednesdays to either practice at the Moses Lake Presbyterian Church or travel to different elder care facilities in Moses Lake to perform and share the talent and love to these retired people. It’s a gift to the singers, as it is a great exercise to strengthen voices and contribute to our local community. If you know someone or are someone who would be interested in the support programs offered or would like to join our sing along group please contact any of the following people to gain the information you need. Stephen E Syre at (509) 765-6498 or [email protected], Sandee Estoos at (509) 760-8801 or [email protected], or Dee Schwab at (509)750-6728 or [email protected].
Written by Judy Baker