Couple bravely battle Parkinson's
MICHAEL J Fox once said Parkinson's disease was the gift that keeps on taking.
The American actor is a Parkinson's sufferer and has battled the incurable disease publicly since 1991 when he was diagnosed aged just 29.
Buderim's Denise King, while not a sufferer, is all too familiar with Parkinson's and its debilitating symptoms.
Like Michael, her husband Jeffery was one of the 10% of people who were diagnosed with the disease before the age of 40.
Jeffery, now 64, has lived with it since he was 30.
Parkinson's is a chronic and progressive neurological condition that is characterised by symptoms such as slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, instability and tremor.
"Before diagnosis Jeffery's left knee use to shake and he had a horrific headache which led to hospitalisation," Mrs King said.
"After 10 days of tests Jeffery saw his neurologist who confirmed he had Parkinson's disease and prescribed medication."
For Mrs King, living with Parkinson's for more than 30 years has meant love and patience and constant research into the disease.
"When Jeffery and I married in 1971 he was the most placid, gentle person one could wish for and he was mine," she said.
"But as his cognitive loss slowly crept in I wondered what lay ahead.
"Sometimes it is plain sailing and then another symptom rears its ugly head. His speech is deteriorating to the extent that communication proves to be embarrassing and his frequent falls are a constant worry.
"Also his lack of short-term memory means my brain is working for two people most of the time.
"I know my constant companion who has been able to calm me at the stormiest times is moving into his own little world where no-one else can travel."
For the past nine years the pair has been attending the Nambour Parkinson's support group.
Parkinson's Queensland CEO Helen Crew said in the past two years the demand for support groups had nearly tripled.
"We like the support and learning from the experiences of other sufferers and their carers," Mrs King said.
HELP AT HAND
- The Nambour Parkinson's support group is held on the last Friday of the month from 9.30am at The Church of Christ, National Park Rd, Nambour.
- Parkinson's sufferers and their carers are welcome.
- The Parkinson's Australian national conference will be held at Brisbane Convention Centre from July 13-14.
- For more information call 1800 644 189 or visit parkinsons-qld.org.au.