Pope John Paul II had it; so did singer Johnny Cash. Actor Michael J. Fox has it.
It's the brain disorder Parkinson disease, and education is the key to getting a handle on the pain that comes with Parkinson.
"There's no cure," says Joseph Kelley, who has Parkinson.
Joseph loves his hobbies.
"I can still work in my wood shop, cut my own meat...those kinds of things," he says.
But Joseph is in the early stages of Parkinson disease. He'll soon have to give some of his hobbies up, like he did with pistol shooting.
"If you walk on a range and do this with a pistol," Joseph says, shaking his hands, "people get nervous."
Joseph is dealing with his trembling body and the embarrassment.
He understands the disease a bit more than he did when he was first diagnosed 4 years ago.
Joseph's doctor, Dr. Kapil Sethi of MCG, says that's an important step for Parkinson patients.
"And how would they know what their options are unless they do their homework?" Dr. Sethi asks. "So, I think they should read books--lots of patient books available--then lots of Web sites."
Knowledge to help them accept the diagnosis.
Dr. Sethi is the director of MCG's Movement Disorders Clinic. He's seen over 1,000 patients since the clinic opened in 1985. Sethi says many of his patients know very little about Parkinson disease when they arrive.
"And I think it's very important for patients not to be in the closet. It's nothing to be ashamed of; it's not a disease you bring upon yourself," Dr. Sethi says.
Something Joseph knows all too well.
And that's giving him steady hope that a cure may one day be right around the corner.
"It's what it is. You have to accept it. You can't change it. You accommodate for it," Joseph says.
April is Parkinson Awareness Month.
Your chance to learn more about the disease comes this Saturday, April 22, at MCG's 5th annual seminar.
It's from 9am-noon.
Call (706) 721-1991 to register.
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