By CRISTIN REECE
Palestine resident Virginia Wright got the news in November – she has Parkinson’s disease.
“Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons,” Wright explains. “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 a person unable to control movement.”
At first, Wright, 73, said she didn’t know what to think or who to turn to. There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s.
“I remember when I was first diagnosed, the doctor told me I would not die from it but I would die with it,” she recalled. “It’s not hereditary and it was a big surprise to me. It was hard to believe.”
Wright said she definitely felt the lack of any type of support group or program close enough to home for her to actually participate in.
“It takes some getting used to,” she said. “That’s the hardest part of dealing with Parkinson’s – you can’t just hop up and do this or that. You are limited as to what you’re able to do. I’m sure people who don’t know me think I’m drunk because of the way I walk.”
Parkinson’s affects a person’s balance and other motor skills.
Fortunately for Wright, her husband and her daughter helped form a strong base of support at home, but she said she wanted to reach out and help others diagnosed with Parkinson’s who may not have the kind of support she has at home.
That’s why she’s organized a meeting at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 10 at the Anderson County Courthouse Annex, 703 N. Mallard St., in Palestine.
“I have no idea how many people are even interested in a support group, but I feel that it is important to get a support group started in Palestine,” she said. “People need to know that they are not alone and that they can contribute by sharing with others their experiences and problems.
“One problem is that many PWPs (People With Parkinson’s) cannot drive anywhere, much less to Tyler or Dallas so for a support group meeting.”
Parkinson’s sufferers, their family members and caregivers or even just people who’d like to know more about the disease are welcome and invited to attend. If attendants decide they’d like to form a group, Wright said, they can discuss regular times and meeting places during the meeting.
She said she also has information on the disease to share with attendants and will present a video titled “Diagnosis Parkinson’s Disease: You Are Not Alone.”
Wright said anyone interested in attending may contact her at 903-723-2788 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I just want people who might be struggling with Parkinson’s to know they’re not alone,” she said.