Wednesday, March 27, 2013

April Is... Parkinson's Awareness Month

As part of Parkinson's Awareness Month, I am participating by utilizing the Parkinson's Disease Foundation's Toolkit of ideas to raise awareness!  Here is my letter to the editor printed in our community papers:
To the Editor:
This April, I urge our neighbors to take part in Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Nearly one million Americans live with Parkinson’s and many of them, including my husband are living right here in Berkeley Springs, WV.
There is currently no cure.  Parkinson's disease (PD) is "a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time.  Parkinson's involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons.  Parkinson's primarily affects neurons in the area of the brain called the substantia nigra.  Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination, as well as cognitive functions.  As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.  Primary motor signs of Parkinson's disease include tremor, brandykinesia (slowness), rigidity, stiffness, postural instability."
Imagine being just 49 years old with a large family when a neurologist explains that the reason your movement is restricted, muscles experience terrible pain, walking appears intoxicated, sleep is elusive  and you occasionally "freeze" while doing simple tasks is because you have a degenerative disease called Parkinson's.  Our youngest children were only 3 and 4 years old. 
But that didn't stop our family!  Through PD awareness and support of a strong and loving church and family, we are conquering this illness through the power of prayer, positive attitude and exercise.  With constant activity and connection with caring experts in movement disorders, we have come to manage what was a devastating diagnosis.  Although the journey can sometimes be "shaky", it has been also been joyous; learning to live daily by counting God's blessings, realizing that each day is a new opportunity to be healthy.
I invite you to show your support for others living daily with chronic illness to "Wear Grey for Parkinson's Awareness!" on April 13th.  
For more information, please contact the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.  Follow our story at where you can submit your photo and global pictures will be posted.  Show your support and awareness, “wear grey” on Saturday, April 13th
Angie Hott
Berkeley Springs, WV

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