- Sex: M
- Data Quality: 2 stars
- Parkinson's: 13 yrs
- Hoehn-Yahr 2 Type: Parkinson's disease On
- Mouth/throat: mild
- Arms: mild
- Chest: mild
- Legs: mild
- Male, 47 years
- Rome, GA
- Primary Condition
- Parkinson's disease
- First symptom
Founder: NW Georgia Parkinson Disease Association
Chief Volunteer Officer (NWGA Parkinson Disease Association)
2008 Young Onset Parkinson Network Conference Chairman (NPF)
People with Parkinson's Advisory Council Member (PDF)
Georgia State Congressional Coordinator (PAN)
Info online at www.gaparkinsons.org
diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2003 at age 37
My name is James and I am a 42 year old single male living in Rome, Georgia. Rome is located about 1 ½ hours north of Atlanta, GA and 1 hour south of Chattanooga, TN. Around 2000, I started to notice some sever rigidity and balance problems. Eventually I noticed a slight tremor in my right hand. It would take three years and as many local doctors before my local neurologist would refer me to a movement disorders specialist at Emory University in Atlanta. (Sounds familier, doesn't it). After only about 15 minutes, Dr. Alan Freeman looked at me and said "I am almost 100% sure that you have Parkinson Disease." I felt like my life was over. Then he encouraged me to attend the 1st ever Young Onset Parkinson Network Conference that would be held in Atlanta in June of that year.
Not really knowing what to expect, my parents, brother, sister and best friend attended the three day conference. To say the least our eyes were opened. I left both motivated to get involved and determined to prove that I wasn't one of "them". For several months, I gave into depression and refused to talk about my illness. I didn't want anyone to know that I had Parkinson's. After all, I was too young. The depression would not go away until I started talking about my illness and learning all I could. There were no local support groups for Parkinson Disease so Kris Poulsen (a lady I had met in Atlanta) and I started one. We held our first support group meeting on September 7th, 2004 while the remnants of Hurricane Frances stormed across northwest Georgia. Eleven people attended that first meeting and I haven't stopped talking about Parkinson's yet.
That little support group became a chapter of the National Parkinson Foundation in February 2005. Each year we host the Southeastern Parkinson Disease Conference in Rome, Georgia as well as awareness events throughout the year. While still maintaining a full time job, I also run four support groups and coordinate the activities for the Northwest Georgia Parkinson Disease Association. In 2004 I joined the Parkinson's Action Network as a Congressional Coordinator for Georgia and became the State Coordinator in November 2007. In 2006, I was elected to the Parkinson Disease Foundation's "People with Parkinson's Advisory Council" as well as the National Parkinson Foundation's YOPN Conference Committee. This year, I will serve as the Chairperson for the YOPN Conference.
What motivates me? Helping others overcome the helpless feeling that a diagnosis of Parkinson's can bring. The smile of relief that comes across a person's face when he/she finds out that they are not alone is priceless. That motivates me to keep going, stay active and keep educating the public. One day there will be a cure. Maybe then I'll finally stop talking and take a rest - maybe!
Northwest Georgia Parkinson Disease Association: http://www.gaparkinsons.org/
National Parkinson Foundation: http://www.parkinson.org/
Parkinson Action Network: http://www.parkinsonsaction.org/
Parkinson Disease Foundation: http://www.pdf.org/
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