Bob Murphy is the oldest of six children. As the oldest of the Murphy lot, Bob relished in his responsibility to watch over his younger siblings, keep them in line and correct their silly mistakes. Fast forward to today, Bob is a retired middle school math teacher after a 28-year career. He was also a football announcer and coach, but most importantly, he is a father, grandfather and family co-captain with his wife, Barbara.
In 2009, Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease (PD). He finally met his match. This was something he couldn't fix — and he hated it!
Bob and PD coexisted quite nicely for their first eight years together, but then two years ago Bob began losing control of movement of extremities. He struggled with involuntary movements and lost 48 pounds during this two-year period since his body was constantly moving. He was in unrelenting pain that moved liberally throughout his body. He was heading down a bumpy road and his neurologist had to slow down this runaway train.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery appeared to be the answer. It's a type of brain surgery where a surgeon implants electrodes in the brain to compensate for the lack of connections in the nervous system. In the summer of 2017, Bob underwent DBS surgery.
At his first follow-up appointment, post-surgery, the neurologist estimated that Bob could experience an 80% reduction in his involuntary movements — way above the hoped-for benchmark. There were several other subtle changes in Bob's demeanor as well. Suffice to say, the train had been returned to the track with thanks to DBS surgery and Bob's quality of life has returned to a tolerable level.
Barbara and Bob knew that there must be others who, like them, were struggling to understand the different aspects of PD. Every neurologist told them that everyone is different when it comes to managing Parkinson’s and that it’s a disease that must be treated individually. What works for one doesn’t necessarily help the other.
For Bob, a steady exercise routine has helped him slow the progression of PD. He regularly attends his local Rock Steady Boxing classes.
They wanted to learn everything they could about this disease that was changing their lives so dramatically. They called to the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636), received the resources they needed and wanted to learn more about what they could do locally. Next, they and were put in touch with their local Moving Day coordinator.
Barbara and Bob attended the inaugural Moving Day Rhode Island in 2017 and are currently preparing for their third walk. Bob, his 3 daughters — Erin, Kara and Meghan — and his four grandchildren — Alexis, Liam, Nolan and Anders — along with more family and friends all gather as “Murphy’s Minions Team” at Moving Day. They can’t wait for this year’s event to raise Parkinson’s awareness and funds that go to PD research.
“Moving Day is like a second Christmas in our family,” Bob said. “I have the greatest family in the world. They come from all over to walk with the Minions. Last year my cousins from Pennsylvania flew in to surprise me and my sister and my brother-in-law came out from Maryland to cross the finish line together. I was really speechless when racing to the starting line I saw my nephew and his fiancée who came from half way around the world to support us from Malaysia.”