By Devina Samaroo
Over 50 Guyanese are affected by Parkinson’s Disease, with the most common symptoms known to be shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking.
And while there is no cure, one man is trying to live his best life.
Dennis Rovindra Ganesh, 63, rides his bicycle around his neighbourhood in Diamond, East Bank Demerara (EBD) and runs errands for his wife every morning. He says it is a good way to get some fresh air and stay fit.
Dennis started experiencing muscle spasms in 2009 but doctors initially treated him for a stroke.
As his condition worsened, the father of three decided to change doctors and it was in 2013 that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s Disease is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder, second to Alzheimer’s. This disorder is more frequent in elderly persons.
Though it is an incurable disease treatment is available for the symptoms which range from tremors to slurred speech.
Patients can also experience constipation, difficulty swallowing, depression and sleeping disorders. In Parkinson’s disease, certain nerve cells in the brain gradually break down or die.
Many of the symptoms are due to a depletion of those cells that produce a chemical in the brain called dopamine.
When dopamine levels decrease, it causes abnormal brain activity, leading to symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Though down with a disease that only worsens with time, Dennis is adamant to live his best life.
Being a black belt, he makes sure he schedules time in his day to practice karate. He refuses to get rusty on his kicks and punches.
Dennis, who made furniture for sale before he fell ill, also engages in a little bit of woodworking but not as much as he used to before.
Because of the disease, he is only able to make small items like a rolling pin or mallet.
Dr Iliana Lopez, a neurologist consultant at the country’s premier public health institution – the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) – said there are roughly 52 persons being treated for Parkinson’s Disease at the hospital, two of them below the age of 16.
Many of them were diagnosed late, as was Dennis. But Dr Lopez explained that while Parkinson’s Disease reduces one’s life expectancy, early detection can guarantee a good prognosis and a comfortable life.
Though he does as the doctor prescribes, Dennis has his moments of unhappiness, not being able to revel in the pleasures of woodworking and karate like he used to, not being able to live like before. He also feels scared sometimes, but Dennis believes God is in control.
Parkinson’s Disease affects an estimated ten million people worldwide. The Incidence and prevalence report branding summary report, a United Kingdom (UK) study on the disease, shows that the estimated incidence of Parkinson’s for people aged 45 or over for 2018 is 18,461.