Saturday, September 19, 2009

HOLIDAY SPECIAL: Being Positive About Parkinson's

ONE of the most difficult parts about becoming or being disabled is when the person starts to lose control of his or her life.

This is especially hard and painful for those who have lived independently for most of their lives.

An insidious disease like Parkinson’s, for example, can leave its victim with shattered hopes.

Parkinson's Disease (PD) which is a neurological condition that currently has no cure only gets worse over time.

It often robs People with Parkinson’s (PwP) of the many basic abilities that is needed for independent living.

Its sufferers commonly experience difficulty in moving their arms and legs. In times like these, they have to depend on others for assistance.

They also develop tremors and facial tics which is characteristic of the disease.

PD causes PwP’s to gradually become more and more immobile.

In a debilitating situation like this, it is not surprising that society tends to look down on PwP’s as weak and pitiful human beings.

That scenario however is not true in the case of a particular gentleman I was privileged to be introduced to last week.

Mohd Yazid Ismail from Bukit Damansara in Kuala Lumpur has had PD for almost 20 years. And like most PwP’s, he didn’t realise he had the condition until much later.

“I was working in Brunei Darul Salam when I think the first signs of PD started creeping into my life,” said Yazid who is a retired higher executive officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Speaking to Wheel Power in an interview last week, the 74-year old gentleman explained:

“It started off at first as a slight tremor in my right hand that appeared once in a while.

“But I didn’t think about it much as I realised that my hand only started shaking when I got excited or anxious about something,” added Yazid, saying that he simply put it down as a temporary nerve problem.

The irregular tremors however stayed on for two years.

By that time Yazid noticed that his writing of numbers and alphabets had also started to shrink in size for some reason.

Despite these alarm bell signals, Yazid pushed away everything from his mind until his retirement in 1990.

That was when he returned to Malaysia.

“Because I was very active in sports, especially in badminton and had no known history of disability in my generation of family, I didn’t think that I had any real cause to worry,” he said.

By this time Yazid’s tremors had increased. However, he didn’t face any major problems in walking.

He finally met a general practitioner in KL, more out of curiosity than anything else, he said.

It didn’t take long for the doctor to suspect PD and refer him to a neurologist. However, Yazid had to wait three months before he could see the specialist who confirmed the GP’s suspicion.

“I must say that I was rather disappointed that both the medical doctors did not tell me much about PD other than I now had the condition,” Yazid recalls.

“All I knew then was that boxer Muhammad Ali and the late Pope John Paul II had it, and had difficulties in walking – other than that I knew nothing”.

However it was after Yazid doing some personal research on the subject through books and international sources that he discovered how serious his condition was.

Despite the grim prognosis, Yazid is heartened to learn that PD is treatable – especially in slowing down the full effects of the condition.

Today although Yazid is in a more advanced stage of his condition, he remains optimistic. Although he now requires the use of a wheelchair, he only asks for it when he absolutely needs it.

This is one of his parts of still “being in control” of his life.

Yazid pops as many as a dozen pills in a day.

“Although I do have the occasional ‘down moments’, I never blame God for what has happened to me.

“I think having PD is part of any other disease or problems we as human beings have to go through.

“But rather than staying depressed, I am fortunate that I am able to see the many blessings of life; such as still being alive at 74, and being surrounded by my family and relatives who I love and love me back in return,” Yazid concluded.

And that is exactly what Yazid and his wife Rahila plan to do over this weekend for Raya.

For more information about Parkinson’s Disease, please contact the Malaysian Parkinson Disease Association in Kuala Lumpur at: 03 7980 6685 or email them at:

You can also visit them at their Website at

The End

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