From Peggy: Leaving WPC 2013

ppac_willocksThere’s no other way to describe it … I crashed at the Montreal airport. We had left the 3rd World Parkinson Congress (WPC) in plenty of time, but I think everyone leaving the Congress for home that day was trying to catch their plane simultaneously.

As I waited in line, I kept hoping someone would say, “Those requiring extra help or those with small children, please come to the front of the line.” I felt my legs turning to rubber and squeaked out a weak “help me!” Sandra, my traveling companion, went to find a wheelchair. There were no personnel in sight! A sweet couple in front of me grabbed me under each arm and prevented me from slumping to the floor. I finally got a wheelchair, calmed down, and then had dyskinesia from you-know-where for the remainder of the trip. As we were finally boarded the plane headed for Tri-cities Regional Airport in Tennessee, the stewardess asked me, “Can I get you anything?” Without hesitation , I answered. “Yes! A new brain!”

Although I arrived safely home, I still have the same ol’ brain that has been probed and studied and probably glows in the dark from all of the neuroimaging I have had, but all to no avail. But that’s not totally true, because I didn’t leave Montreal empty-handed.

I left with three good…no, three irreplaceable assets:

  1. I left with a better understanding of what it is like across all levels of living with Parkinson’s.
  2. I left with a pocketful of business cards, representing but a small percentage of new acquaintances to add to my network.
  3. I left with renewed hope for finding, in my lifetime, better therapies for Parkinson’s.

In research, the scientists are always talking about how Parkinson’s is so conducive to inflating the placebo effect. And if everyone could participate in the WPC 2016 in Portland, OR, we would definitely have a statistical problem. It’s a problem I would welcome.

Peggy Willocks of Johnson City, TN is a member of PDF’s People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council. Read her full bio on our website here, and download her fact sheet on traveling with Parkinson’s here.

5 thoughts on “From Peggy: Leaving WPC 2013

  1. Michael J Church

    Peggy, I can sure relate and I’m sorry you had such a difficult journey home. We were exhausted by the time we got home too although it sounds as if your experience was the more difficult one. The way I see it is like this. What seem like problems to us, are actually opportunities to educate others, especially those in public service just like airports. Recognizing of course that some are better handling special needs and accommodating PWP and other disabilities, it is important to demonstrate and often times demand the acknowledgement of OUR needs. It is my opinion and others may disagree that self advocacy leads to awareness and the education of those around us. Glad you made it home. Enjoyed seeing you at World Parkinson Congress.

  2. Jerry Terrill

    I wish you could have ridden with Noriko and me to New York City. We enjoyed the autumn leaves and used a wheel chair at rest stops which all had a restroom for a handicapped individual. Before I started to use a wheel chair all the time, I used to turn down offers of wheel chairs at check in counters at airports. I guess I looked more frail than you look. Keep on walking, because the loss of the ability to walk is very difficult to overcome. I have overcome a small fraction of the loss of mobility. You inspire me to persevere.

  3. Peggy Willocks

    Michael & Jerry,
    I am humbled by both of your comments. There’s no way to measure who has the worse case of PD and the greatest barrriers to overcome, because it is all relevant to the situation and what day your symptoms are off the UPDRS (symptom rating scale). But Michael’s statement about how important it is to demonstrate and often times demand the acknowledgement of OUR needs as an educational opportunity is so true.. and Jerry’s comment about me inspiring him is the very reason I continue to follow up and share my awkward siituations with wriite-ups such as this one. We have many students waitinng, so let’s press on, geentlemen!

  4. Ida Fracasse

    Newly diagnosed and scarred to death. What does my future hold? I keep falling a lot and its worse with a cane because I trip myself. Is everyone out there taking mediciine, and if so, what kind? The doctor started my on one and had a bad reaction. The same thing happened with the second one. Please HELP>

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