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Misdiagnosed for Years...Sufferers can have illness for years before knowing it

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Old 10-26-2007, 11:07 AM   #1
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Default Misdiagnosed for Years...Sufferers can have illness for years before knowing it

Difficult diagnosis
Sufferers can have illness for years before knowing it

Michelle Hopkins
Richmond News

Friday, October 26, 2007

It started innocuously enough.

One morning, Diana Colquhoun couldn't turn over in bed.

Then it got to the point the Richmond woman's circulation was so bad, her joints began to stiffen.

Not your typical Parkinson's disease symptoms, says the 62-year-old retired secretary and artist.

"I was misdiagnosed for years because I didn't have the tremors (the most common symptom of Parkinson's disease)," says Colquhoun. "I was only diagnosed a few years ago and doctors think I have had it for 18 years."

Colquhoun, who recently underwent successful Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery, is taking part in this weekend's inaugural Parkinson Society British Columbia conference, dubbed Parkinson's: The Journey. It takes place at Richmond's Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel.

"I hope the conference spreads information about living with Parkinson's and it will be a forum to meet and network with other Parkinson sufferers," says Colquhoun, who adds she's never had the shakes like Canadian actor and fellow sufferer Michael J. Fox.

Although Colquhoun can never be cured, her symptoms have been radically reduced by her DBS surgery, a revolutionary treatment in which electrodes are implanted on both sides of the brain. Patients who have had the procedure note markedly improved motor skills.

American neurologist Dr. David Heydrick understands all too well what Colquhoun is experiencing, as he was diagnosed with Parkinson's at 39.

"My first signs were slow finger movement on my right hand ... it was very subtle at first," says the 44-year-old Heydrick, who is a guest speaker at the upcoming conference. "My symptoms rapidly advanced and within two years I was totally disabled.

"But by changing my diet, undergoing the DBS surgery in 2005, and working out, I'm now off the medication and I'm cycling."

Heydrick will discuss what he calls his Parkinson's Pyramid: "It's a science-based, integrated lifestyle paradigm that I have employed for the past three years in my own battle against Parkinson's."

He likens the Parkinson's Pyramid to dollar-cost averaging via money markets. "Reduce your stress, eat healthy foods, take vitamins and supplements, and engage in a variety of exercise to come out with a net gain; a gain in quality of life and possibly even slowing your disease down."

Parkinson's: The Journey, Oct. 26 to 28, is sold out. In addition to Heydrick, speakers include internationally renowned researchers and clinicians Dr. Christopher Honey, who is the only neurosurgeon in B.C. who performs the DBS surgery, and Dr. Zig Wszolek, professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.


Parkinson's is a chronic, degenerative neurological disease;

There is no cure;

Diagnosis is often difficult;

There are 7,000 British Columbians with Parkinson's disease;

While most people with Parkinson's are over 60, about 20 per cent are diagnosed before the age of 50.
You're alive. Do something. The directive in life, the moral imperative was so uncomplicated. It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. It sounded like this: Look. Listen. Choose. Act. ~~Barbara Hall

I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. ~~Helen Keller
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