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Parkinsons /Friendships

Ambassador for the World Parkinson’s Congress 2022 – Embajadora de Congreso Mundial de Parkinson.

I am honoured to be chosen as an Ambassador for the World Parkinson’s Congress in June 2022 in Barcelona.

What is a WPC Ambassador you ask?

They are people who have Parkinson’s who are passionate about living well with Parkinson’s and help others do the same. They have attended a congress, I did last year in June in Japan, and they are so excited about the next one and would have booked their tickets already if they could.

“Ambassadors will work as part of our outreach team as we plan for the WPC 2022 in Barcelona, Spain from June 7 – 10, 2022. Whether giving talks at local support groups, writing articles in papers or on blogs, making themselves available to speak about the WPC to communities wanting to learn more about why to attend a World Parkinson Congress, they are invaluable members of the WPC team and we are thrilled to have them on board” WPC website.

It is very exciting and I am looking forward to working with the team of 15 others. I am the only ambassador south of Mexico so I have a lot of ground to cover. The joy of this conference is that it will be in Spanish too so that means that it is important to get the South Americans along while it is in their language.

ESPAÑOL

Me siento honrada de ser elegida embajadora del Congreso Mundial de Parkinson de junio del 2022 en Barcelona.

¿Qué es un/a embajador/a de Congreso Mundial de Parkinson (WPC)?

Son personas con Parkinson apasionadas por vivir bien con Parkinson y ayudar a otros a hacer lo mismo. Han asistido a un congreso, lo hice el año pasado en junio en Japón, y están muy entusiasmados con el próximo y ya habían reservado sus vuelos si pudieran.

“Los embajadores trabajarán como parte de nuestro equipo de promotores y planeamos el WPC 2022 en Barcelona, ​​España, del 7 al 10 de junio de 2022. Ayudaran dando charlas en grupos de apoyo locales, escribiendo artículos en periódicos o blogs, poniéndose a disposición para hablar sobre el WPC a las comunidades que desean aprender más sobre por qué asistir a un Congreso Mundial de Parkinson, son miembros invaluables del equipo de WPC y estamos encantados de tenerlos a bordo” del sitio web de WPC.

Estoy muy emocionada y espero trabajar con el equipo de los 15. Soy el única embajadora al sur de México, así que tengo mucho terreno por recorrer. La alegría de esta conferencia es que también será en español, lo que significa que es importante llevar a los sudamericanos mientras están en su idioma.

 Estoy disponible para hablar en reuniones.  ¿Quien va con conmigo a Barcelona?

https://wpc2022.org/page/2022ParkinAmb?fbclid=IwAR2EFTsD92iMBNv5AofTy23kOsY3PUtPiqpPIoinAX3KOvI5h5zk56RnwLY

How is your body when you are stressed?

Do you notice yourself feeling tense, for example in your shoulders? Does your headache? 

Do you feel tired or easily irritated? Does your stomach get upset or do you experience shortness of breath?

While everyone might be a bit different it is important that we notice what stress looks like and notice what happens in our body. Looking for the signals is the first step in dealing with stress.  This was one strategy the fabulous psychologist Rita Ames taught us in an interactive talk about dealing with stress and Parkinson’s disease. She got everyone talking, even those who seemed reticent at first.

Looking back these feelings of stress were with me at the January Activate meeting where I felt overwhelmed leading almost everything at the meeting. So I had noted this and delegated a few things and asked for volunteers. I was encouraged to have lots of help and glad to not be stressed during our February meeting. 

Rita did the main talk and Elizabeth, another volunteer and gifted communicator, encouraged us spiritually. We had a volunteer bring crackers and water and others helped with registration. This allowed me to be free to organise the meeting while carers could tell their side of the story to our registration helpers. The carers often feel isolated so they appreciated having someone to listen to them and show them love. 

The biggest surprise was Juan who I asked to report on our legal status and our plans to create a Non government organization (NGO) so we can receive donations. He shared how he had caught my contagious attitude and was now planning big things for “Activate – Liga Contra el Parkinson”. It’s very encouraging as his plans go way beyond my ideas. He also shared about his life with Parkinson, his struggle with depression and thoughts about how we can help others with this debilitating sickness. It’s exciting to see Juan’s approach changing.

Needs:

  • We may need a new venue in the future so please pray for this.
  • We need to have space for exercise classes too (could be the same place). 
  • Also pray we find a physiotherapist to evaluate people, so we can understand their needs before we start classes and track their progress.
  • Volunteers for Registration at events
  • Volunteers to distribute and hang posters to educate the public 
  • Volunteers for administration and translation, 
  • Our next meeting on the 3rd of March is with a Peruvian Doctor who lives in the USA, so we need to get an organising team going very soon. 

So thanks again to those who helped me this month. I couldn’t do this alone. 

I am still thinking of how to avoid stress. I’m really enjoying the work but the extrovert in me doesn’t want to go it alone.

What can you do when you recognise stress in your life?

What is your strength or talent?

That may seem a strange question to use in a Parkinson’s association meeting. But that what I asked is very strategic. These people have parkinson! They have plenty of weaknesses. They are used to people asking them about symptoms and many suffer from depression, anxiety and lack of motivation. It is part of the disease though everyone is affected differently do not everyone has it.

The other reason I use such an approach is because I did a Masters in Community Development which is an aspect of social work and international development which approaches development from a different perspective. The role of the community development worker is to help the people themselves. 

One of the key methods is  asset-based development. Instead of going in and asking ‘what do you need’ or condensing statements or questions about their situation they look at the strengths they have. Helping people find their strengths means helping them see their worth and see how that could help each other. That is one of my aims with Activate – the Liga of Parkinson’s en Arequipa. 

I also wanted to avoid the tearful diagnosis stories this meeting and keep it more positive. Not to say we won’t do these stories but not everytime we meet. Instead we started with singing, actions and dancing to a children’s song with a good latino rhythm. This helped everyone loosen up and have a bit of fun. 

Feeling useful and valued brings people joy and my strategy is to get people involved in running the Liga. Let’s be honest it is a lot of work alone so having help will lighten the load too especially as the people get the hang of what is involved. Family of the people with 

Parkinson’s are also invited to help out too. 

We are hoping to start some sort of exercise classes for those interested so I asked if people could help find a location and teachers and or funding or the user pays. It could take some time. 

We also had life size person outline on paper and we had everyone yell  their symptoms, and we put up the labels on the body of where they related to.  They enjoyed being the experts on the disease as we of people learn about symptoms others have. 

We had about 16 people with Parkinson’s plus family. I have 42 contacts with Parkinson’s now and the Doctor just rang to say she has more people wanting to come so we a have penciled in the 11th of February for the next meeting in the same venue to keep things moving.

In all, exciting meeting and we hope and pray the enthusiasm continue. 

In the Newspaper – En el periodico

En Español abajo.

What a surprise? I was interviewed for a newspaper and today when I found out it was published we rushed to buy it, looked through all of it and started to think it must have been yesterdays paper. No, it was a full backpage. Amazing!

So thankful for the connections I am making to get this far. A person with Parkinson’s introduced me to the journalist and because she already knew of his struggle she was already sold on helping us out and wants to continue to do so.

By chance I ran into the family at the shops just now and was able to say thank you in person. Juan reiterated that Nelly was willing to write more stories. To which I replied “Yes! I am hoping your story will be next as I know you are a going to improve a lot right?” He smiled sheepishly. Let’s hope and pray! He is a great guy with a lovely family.

I have various friends helping with editing and other tasks which helps so much. It takes a village really. Thank you Josue, Ines, Noelia, Leydey, Yoselyn y David, and my kids. Hoping for more helpers soon. Any volunteers

The article is in Spanish but it explains about starting the Parkinson Association in my city, my exercise and the video I made which documents my gymnastics program which was shortlisted for the #wpc19 video competition.

En Español

¿Qué sorpresa? Fui entrevistado para un periódico hoy, cuando descubrí que estaba publicado, nos apresuramos a comprarlo. Lo revisamos todo y comenzamos a pensar que debía haber sido el periodico de ayer. Pero era una página detrás. ¡Increíble!

Estoy muy agradecido por las conexiones que me ayudaron a educar sobre la enfermedad de parkinson. Juan, un amigo con Parkinson, que me presentó al periodista, Nelly. Porque ella ya subia de la enfermedad de Juan, ya estaba convencida de ayudarnos y quiere continuar haciéndolo.

Por casualidad me encontré con Juan y su familia en las tiendas el mismo dia y pude agradecerles en persona. Juan reiteró que Nelly estaba dispuesta a escribir más historias. A lo que respondí: “¡Sí! Espero que tu historia sea la próxima, ya que sé que vas a mejorar mucho, ¿Verdad?” Él sonrió tímidamente. ¡Estoy orando! Son una linda familia.

Tengo varios amigos que ayudan con la edición y otras tareas que ayudan mucho. Realmente se necesita un pueblo. Gracias a Josue, Ines, Noelia, Leydey, Yoselyn, David y mis hijos. Esperando más ayudantes pronto.¿Quienes quiere involucrarse?

Los trabajos sean administrativo, diseño gráfico, buscando aliados en hospitales y lugar para clases etc.

El artículo está en español, pero explica acerca de cómo iniciar la Asociación Parkinson en mi ciudad, mi ejercicio y el video que hice que documenta mi programa de gimnasia que fue seleccionado para la competencia de videos en el congreso mundial de parkinson #wpc19.

https://diariocorreo.pe/edicion/arequipa/como-superar-el-parkinson-consejos-de-una-paciente-que-vencio-las-dificultades-928439/?ref=dcr

Starting the Parkinson’s Association in Arequipa

Speaking at a Lima event of the Parkinson’s Association

The process of starting the Parkinson’s association in my city is taking time. That is the way life is here in Peru as there is always paperwork and permissions and more paperwork to be done. But because of this delay I organised a more intimate meeting with a handful of people that I know to see if I could build up the trust between us. 

Edith (name changed) is a retired teacher who I have heard speak various times and always admired as she is so interactive and creative in the way she presents. I invited a group of pastor’s wives to my home, including Edith,  for a time to encourage one another and before long she mentioned she too has Parkinson’s disease. She didn’t know that exercise helps slow the advance of the disease. It was a surprise, but it shouldn’t be as my research shows that people with Parkinson’s (PWP) in Peru don’t have a clear understanding of how exercise rebuilds the nerve connections again and practice and movement help with coordination and walking.  To make a long story short it is exciting as Edith helped me host the first Parkinson’s association meeting in my home. Her talk were real blessing to others.

Another member is a lawyer Pablo (name changed) whose wife I know through my current circle. He is very capable in helping me with the paperwork for the association and also helping set it up legally.  His story is that he had been told he ‘shouldn’t dance or exert himself too much’. He actually struggled with this advice as he loved dancing but had to give it up. But scientific studies say the exact opposite. Dancing is an excellent form of exercise as the music helps move people too. Scientific studies say that while stretching is good but one needs to also get out of breath,  – which in Spanish is ‘agitarse’ – like agitate yourself a little. Dancing is great for Parkinson’s but so are running, walking, boxing, yoga and many other forms of exercise. They help with movement and prevent rapid disease progression. Exercise also helps with depression, and social interaction with exercise is great too. 

But this man has had the disease over 10 years, still works full time, and is now accustomed to inactivity. I have heard it said that people with Parkinson’s are resistant to exercise. This sounds strange but depression and apathy are also common and affect motivation. 

So pray for this new friend who wants to help with the association that he’ll have the time and energy to help and that also he can find the motivation to get exercising. I believe he can do it… he just doesn’t know it yet. His wife told me how amazingly smart he is and I don’t doubt it but sadly sometimes Parkinson’s affects so many parts of one’s life and this affects one’s confidence. 

It may all just take a little longer than I had planned but we had a lovely time together with just 5 of us in total. I hope we can integrate others soon. 

Visiting Parkinson’s Geneticist – Dr Nacho Mata

You might have seen me walking around WPC with a Peruvian beanie (warm) hat on. There was reason to my madness: I was trying to connect with people from South America but  there were very few of them. But then I heard about the legendary “Nacho Mata” – But I couldn’t find Nacho despite messaging him, so on went the hat and he spotted me easily leaving a session. 

Dr Mata had a huge interest in Peru, where I live, as his work is in genetic studies various countries in South America. He has found that Latinos have very little representation in the genetic studies done already so if cures or treatment was found it would be likely to benefit mainly European forms of Parkinson’s and not others. Nacho, originally from Spain,  he decided to study the South American variant of parkinson.

When we met at the WPC conference I asked if he could speak with the Peruvian Parkinson’s Association about Genetics (but basic level only). He willingly agreed and the association booked a hall and organised the event within just over a months notice. 

This talk was a great “Introduction to Parkinson’s Genetics” which should be repeated at WPC22.  It explained briefly causes and basics Parkinson’s and even used a Peruvian food analogy to keep them listening. Everyone should know to complement a Peruvian it is best to say “I love _____ (specific food). Smart! He had them hungry for more (pun intended). 

Only 20% of persons have a hereditary form of Parkinson’s and he encouraged PWP to enroll in genetic studies.  Association should also raise funds for research too, as that is how Nacho got his start in Parkinson’s research – the location Parkinson’s Association where he lived gave him a scholarship to do Parkinson’s research. He talks as if they’re his aunts and uncles and is so grateful to them. 

So thank-you to the World Parkinson’s Congress for making the connection possible. Interestingly enough through Nachos visit I have met several young neurologists who are passionate about helping patients. One even stopped me in the hall at a medical conference Nacho was teaching at and said “thanked you for coming and inspiring me to keep working in this area” as I’d shared briefly what it was like for People With Parkinson’s (PWP) in Peru. And how do I know ? I know because I interviewed 28 people so I could present a poster on the topic at WPC2019. Thanks for inspiring me to take their story to the world. 

I also had one young neurologist ask what was needed in Parkinson’s research. I pointed him to the patients ideas that came from WPC poster. I don’t know if he’ll do that topic but he’s more aware now and he wants to help organise a Parkinson’s conference next year for health professions and patients. Anyone else want to come and help us? I’ll take you out for same great Peruvian dish like “Lomo Saltado”. 

Lastly I met very innovative and well read twin doctors – One is a neurologist and the other is finishing rehabilitation speciality and they want to start a parkinson’s Centre in Lima. Yes! They’ve a huge heart to see things done well in Peru and I hope I can partner with them to meet their dream. 

These 3 doctors have confirmed that together we are coming to WPC2022 – Go team Peru!  From 1 in 2019 to 4 at a minimum in 2022. 

Thank-you Nacho for giving up your time to share your knowledge in Peru.


New treatment developments for Parkinson’s Disease

Many ask me questions about the new developments that are coming out to treat parkinson’s disease. While I know a lot sometimes I find it hard to explain so here is a great video from Dr Simon Lewis, from University of Sydney, who I met at the World Parkinson’s Congress. He explains everything you might need to know but it is 45 minutes long because it isn’t a simple question to answer.

I think it is worthwhile watching if you make the time. Please share with others and give it a like.

World Parkinson’s Congress 2019 Kyoto JAPAN

The World Parkinson’s Congress in Japan was amazing and life changing. Researcher from around the world joined with patients and carers to hear and share about the latest scientific developments and support each other in this journey called Parkinson’s disease.

A reception for Australian’s got me started on networking. There were hundreds of Aussies and over 60 countries represented. I was the only one from Peru.

I heard talks about advocacy, diet, the best exercise, depression/ apathy and anxiety and coping with early onset Parkinson’s with family/work. Some scientific talks that went over my head and others I’m reviewing at home to remember. I did yoga, a dance class and tango which was so empowering.

I met people from all around the world and I especially tried to connect with Latinos and Spanish people and encouraged people to come visit us in Peru and maybe volunteer there.
I told everyone about how tough it is for sufferers in PERU but was so excited to hear next time it will be in Barcelona so that means Peruvians can attend as the conference will be translated into Spanish as well.
My video did not win – but thanks again to everyone who voted nonetheless. The winning video was professional, one of four entries by the same person and about a legendary campaigner/PWP in the Parkinson’s world who had passed away suddenly. A worthy winner indeed.
It was amazing to see how different the symptoms were around us and that there must have been over 200 people under 55 with Parkinson’s at the conference. Over 2000 people attended from 60 countries.
I loved it so much that I can’t wait for World Parkinson’s Congress in 2022. #WPC2022

Knowing Spanish, I hope I might help in some way with organisation as it is run by a small NGO and as you can imagine it is a mammoth undertaking and they need volunteers to help run it. Maybe you could come and volunteer too.  

World Parkinson’s Day in Lima PERU

In my city people hide the disease but there is a Parkinson’s Association in Lima, so I hopped on a plane to see who I could meet. Well, providence stepped in… before I even got out of Arequipa I met a lady (and her son) whose father had Parkinson’s disease. I was able to chat with her about everything related and she happens to work in health insurance and can use her connections to find patients. She stated as we pulled into Lima “ Next year we’ll celebrate in Arequipa – even better than LIma”.

What a great start to my trip.

World Parkinson’s day is celebrated by people with Parkinson’s Disease and their families all around the world on 11th of April. In Lima there were a hundred people in attendance. There was a special guest, Carlos Alvarez, a comedian whose mother had died from the disease recently. He is helping get media attention and he’s already done that by making a short show about his experience and introducing some people with Parkinson’s and the issues they face.  

I also told my story of getting Parkinson’s disease and how important exercise has been for me. I told them about being an unexpected gymnast and I really connected with the audience who smiled or laughed at my jokes. There was even one lady who doesn’t know what rhetorical questions are but that made it fun too. I was able to make many new friends and interviewed about 11 people in person in Lima. The night ended with music and dancing which is a lot of fun. I’m very excited to see the future of the Association and how it’s growing and educating about parkinson’s disease.

Photos speak louder than words so enjoy.

TED Talk Tips – plus change of blog name to Handstand for Parkinson’s

Was feeling a bit sick this day so lay in bed reading this book. Love it.

I really love TED talks and I found a book on a friend’s shelf “How to deliver a TED talk”. I quickly asked to borrow it. I have always enjoyed public speaking and inspired by the book I drafted a talk about “an idea worth spreading” which is the catchphrase of TED. I’m giving a talk next week so it is perfect timing.

As I kept reading I now see many changes that need to be made, but I knew If I didn’t draft it today I would forget all the good advice from the book.

The first tip that stood out was you need a catchphrase, summarising your main idea(s) ideally short 3-12 words, action centric and include word repetition, rhythm or even poetry. Not all are possible at once but it should be repeated various times.

The second tip I really liked was that you need to catch your audience’s attention in the first 30 seconds. If not, it’s really hard later. There are extensive list of how to do this but I won’t give it all away (Jeremey Donovan wouldn’t like that)

There are lots of tips to fine tune my talk but for me this time the stakes are not as high as doing a real TED talk. But this leads to the next tip I am following already. You need lots of real life practice to get good at public speaking. Without this it is unlikely you’ll get on TED. But that said it is not about being an expert speaker, but a passionate expert in your particular area.

You can nominate yourself to be on TED but if others do, it is even better.

I am excited now to improve my public speaking skills so will continue to take opportunities to share “my idea worth sharing” (that’s another blog post).

I’d love share in your community or church group or Parkinson’s group. I’ll be in Australia from June to August. Other locations could be harder but you never know, I love to travel.

I better get back to writing my speech for World Parkinson’s Day on 11th April which will be in Spanish. This is no easy task in another language. I’ll need even longer to practice and memorise this one. I better get to work.

PS. I am attempting to move all media to name: Handstand for Parkinson’s (often without apostrophe). I am told this is better – uniformity. A work in progress as it is a bit mixed.