Joe reveals life's challenges living with Parkinson's
WHILE Joe Chalmers says his speech can be "slurred, hesitant, very soft or all three", his message is articulate.
Joe is one of thousands of Australians who live with Parkinson's, described as "...a progressive neurological condition that affects people from all walks of life."
In 2007, the former nurse and nurse educator began to recognise that some health symptoms he was experiencing could be linked to Parkinson's.
Although, he says, they were not the usual "tell tale signs", a medical diagnosis two years later confirmed it.
Joe kept working until 2012, when he noticed a few more subtle changes around his daily activities.
Work meetings, in particular, took on a different tone as Joe began to retreat from being a major contributor to becoming, in his words, "the quiet person in the corner".
"By the time I could get the muscles of my face, mouth and tongue all coordinated, and by the time I had the right words to say, the moment had passed," Joe explained.
"I was 68-years-old and so retirement seemed the sensible thing to do."
Since then, life has brought Joe and his family some challenges as they search for answers on how best to handle the situation.
Part of Joe's response is to participate in a local Blue Care exercise regime, the PD Warrior Program and LSVT Think Loud Speech Program, all of which he hails as worthwhile.
"I feel I have gained strength, balance and voice volume, as well as a sense of achievement and satisfaction. There is also the fun of socialising," he said.
Another activity high on Joe's list is his, and his wife Carol's, membership of the local Parksinson's Support Group.
Together, the couple advocates for an enhanced understanding of the special needs of those affected by Parkinson's, particularly as hospital patients when undergoing medical or surgical procedures.
A series of professional development sessions, presented at various local health facilities, service clubs such as Probus, and the University of Southern Queensland Toowoomba campus, have resulted in some procedural changes being made.
Joe has enjoyed the presentations and feels they have helped to improve local knowledge about Parkinson's or PD as he calls it.
"It has been great to use my old skills for something new and valuable," he said, while encouraging others with Parkinson's to continue to use their skills for as long as possible.
"There's a lot we can still do."
"I think if you are upfront about your PD it makes for easier acceptance of the signs and symptoms."
More info about your local Parkinson's Support Group, phone Jan on 46354844.