Tuesday, February 20, 2007
My Parkinson's support group
The only good thing about having PD is that it allows me to belong to the Upper Montgomery County Parkinson's Disease Support Group and attend their meetings. The group, which meets each Wednesday, is led by, facilitated by, and sometimes even pampered by Donna Dorros. If it ever became necessary, I'm sure she could even do a little badgering, as well. More about Donna, later.
The meetings are held at a local church, start at 10:30AM and end around noon. The first 45 minutes are dedicated to exercises selected by Gerri Carpenter, a fitness trainer, with an emphasis toward the needs of Parkinson patients. Unfortunately, I can't take advantage of these excellent sessions, usually offering some lame excuse about lower back pains. Truth be told, many of the exercises do exacerbate the injuries I've sustained over a lifetime of alternately playing sports and imitating a sloth. Instead, I ride my stationary bike for 30 minutes every other day (to keep the heart doctor away). Of course, water exercise would be perfect for me, except I hate getting wet, other than an occasional shower. But, I digress ....
The last 45 minutes are spent on discussion. Donna brings articles of interest gleaned from the internet, newspapers, magazines or journals and shares them with with the group. The last portion of each meeting provides an opportunity for questions, answers and sharing of concerns.
Attendance varies week to week, depending on the weather, holidays, vacations, illnesses, and occasionally, the phase of the moon. Average attendance is perhaps 15, a mixture of Parkinson patients and Care-givers. I seldom miss a meeting, others rarely show up. And that's OK! The group also has a wide spectrum in terms of severity of the disease and symptoms exhibited.
Donna and her late husband Sidney started the group and she has continued it since his death (from PD). Their experiences with respect to this disease would fill a blog or two. Suffice to say, her experience, knowledge and empathy make her a most valuable asset for the group. Some of us believe she is at least as knowledgeable about PD medications as most General Practitioners. Donna has a sympathetic ear, a database-like brain, a ready smile, a shoulder to the wheel, and her nose to the grindstone (now there's a weird mental image). There's a rumor going around that she is an angel in disguise. We all appreciate her very much.
Note to support group members: I want to thank you for making me feel welcome. I've especially enjoyed meeting Frank, Virginia, Lester, Rae, Lucy, Ronnie, Margaret, and of course, Donna. I look forward to future meetings and, ultimately, to the day when we become part of the final eradication of our common enemy, Parkinson's Disease.