David Lee and his wife Mona reside in Newfoundland and Labrador and are naturally positive people. They’ve stayed that way through thick and thin since David’s Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2007. Although he manages all of his personal care needs Mona and the extended Lee family do what they can to make everyday life more livable for David.
“I handle all of my personal care. I do daily exercises, I have my own treadmill and a bike downstairs and I’m a blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do. I practice at home by myself on a punching bag,” said David, who remains as active as possible at the age of 63.
Mona’s role as a care partner is more the personal advocate. As with all things they carve out their path as a cohesive team, dividing household chores and planning between them.
“If he needs me he tells me. I’m more of the mind to wait and see if he needs help. I do more screwdriver work for example, much more than I used to because it takes dexterity. David still does the large jobs, like lawn mowing and, because he was a firefighter, he can cook,” Mona said as she laughed. “Opening a jar can be difficult for him. Writing is obviously tough with his tremors so I do most of that now.”
“It helps to set up some ground rules. We agreed that if David needed help he would ask for it. I agreed to wait for him to ask for help. It’s important to make the person with Parkinson’s to not feel as if they’re disabled. Parkinson’s is a long journey. There are a lot of resources available in your community. You don’t have to do it yourself,” Mona finished.
When the Lees heard the news from their doctor that David had Parkinson’s both he and Mona were devastated. They had already begun plans for their retirement. Some of those plans had to be changed due to David’s progressive Parkinson’s symptoms.
“We were investigating Parkinson’s for a few months before my diagnosis. I had an idea I had Parkinson’s in 2006.”
While some of their plans for the future may have changed their day to day life goes largely unchanged. It’s their “go, go, go” attitude, as Mona puts it, that has changed the most to accommodate David’s symptoms.
“You’ve always got to plan ahead. That’s the thing about Parkinson’s; it varies so much. You never know if it’s going to be a good day or bad one. It’s up and down. The rhythm of life is different. It took us a while to figure that out,” Mona said.
David struggles mostly with tremors and his speaking abilities aren’t as sharp as they used to be. He also suffers from fatigue, poor sleep and has difficulty with little things like putting on his boots.
“The whole daily cycle is really relentless. I can’t just jump out of the chair and go out,” David said.
Through all their struggles the Lees feel they have learned a lot and hope to share their knowledge with others.
“Keep your chin up and follow your doctor’s orders. Exercise regularly and take each day as it comes. When you’re tired make sure you rest. It makes all the difference,” added David.
With their boundless support system and positive attitude Mona and David look forward to having a rich and full life throughout their retirement together.
For information and resources, call 1-800-565-3000 or visit www.parkinson.ca