It was 15 years ago when our family doctor told us that my wife Jeanne was showing signs and could possibly have Parkinsonism. We were preparing that week to take Jeanne’s mother on a cross country road trip, which included stops in Steamboat, Colorado, Las Vegas, where our daughter lived, and South Lake Tahoe.
At that point we made the decision to go ahead with our trip and have further testing upon our return. I guess we were both wishing this could be a bad dream and we would wake up and all would be well.
We had a beautiful trip; however, upon our return we had to face real life. Jeanne was diagnosed with having the first stages of Parkinsonism. At that time we owned a decorating and remodeling business; Jeanne did most of the design, crown moldings and trim work, but her ability to accomplish this and other tasks diminished in just a few months because of her tremors.
We operated the business a few more years and as Jeanne’s symptoms worsened, we retired in 1999.
Jeanne Says “Later on mobility became a serious problem, my shuffling got worse and the freeze-ups became ever present, I was falling frequently, and was lucky I only had broken ribs on a couple of occasions. It became necessary to use a scooter, walker, and a cane. Dan has always been there to help me and encourage me when tasks became difficult. Adjusting my medications didn’t help a lot and often caused nausea problems.”
We always enjoyed visiting family, but as the disease progressed, we were pretty much limited to day trips; the freeze-ups and shuffling became severe and medication had very little effect.
Jeanne has been a trooper through all of this. She has never given up hope or said, “I can’t do this.” Even with all the therapy and exercise programs, she has always been eager to do whatever is necessary.
This is the point in our lives when we heard by way of a newsletter from Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation about a company called Medigait and their training device called GaitAid.
After some research and reading testimonials, we talked to a representative, acquired the device, and started a training program. It takes us about one minute to put on the device and be ready to train. We started training 20 minutes twice daily every day, unless Jeanne was having an off day.
We immediately saw positive results, within 2 weeks a noted improvement, and after 3 months the Shuffling and freeze-ups were almost non-existent, except sometimes in crowds.
As of April 2010, Jeanne has been training with the GaitAid for 1 year. Currently the training schedule is one 15 min. session on Monday and Tuesday then 5 days off “on a flexible schedule.” Of course she still does her muscle strengthening and stretching exercises 3 mornings a week.
The improvement over the past year is amazing to our friends, our doctors, and us.
Jeanne says “I have gained so much in the past year. My freeze-ups are now non-existent except at times when I am in a large crowd, and my walking has improved so much I don’t need to use my scooter. I still take my cane just for that feeling of security. My coordination in getting dressed has also improved considerably. Two weeks ago, Dan and I took a 7-day vacation to Florida and South Alabama where I got to go fishing and walk barefoot on the beach. I also caught more fish than Dan. I am so thankful I can now recapture many of the things I have been missing like travel, family visits, fishing, camping, shopping, and music. We now meet with a group and play music on Thursdays, and I am relearning the mountain dulcimer.”
I can’t think of a person more deserving of this freedom than my wife Jeanne; she is a sweet person who has only good to say about everyone.
Before the GaitAid became available, we had pretty much exhausted our search for anything that would give us hope.
Our hope now is that others will be made aware of this device. Their link is www.medigait.com. Phone 888-777-9906.