My health outlook
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005,when I was 53. After more than 30 years working injournalism and communications, I retired to focus on stayingwell and advocating for Parkinson’s. It’s the same diseasethat actor Michael J. Fox has, which affects your motorskills, balance and coordination and causes tremors—it’sfrustrating because your brain still works but your bodydoesn’t.
In March 2013, I had surgery: electrodes implanted deepin my brain and a transmitter into my chest . . . I’m the bionicman. Deep brain stimulation was impossible before years ofresearch, clinical trials and new technology here in Albertaand elsewhere. When I consider how fortunate I was tohave access to the procedure and the expertise to deliver itsafely here in Calgary, I feel truly blessed. Since the surgery,I’ve tossed my cane aside and feel fluid, loose and moreconfident in my step. I feel stronger. My balance, strengthand endurance are much better and my tremors have almost
I am better and that’s enough cause for a
realistic level of rejoicing
times a week with my wife.
Brain surgery didn’t change everything, but it has givenme a new lease on life. People who haven’t seen me fora while tell me how remarkable the change is, and I justsmile—I’m so fortunate. I can understand that we all wantthe perfect solution; I know I’ve had to manage my ownexpectations and forgive myself for hoping all my symptomswould disappear. But I am better, no doubt about that. That’senough cause for a realistic level of rejoicing.
Even with the operation, the disease is still progressiveand as I get older, it will get worse. But I don’t want to gethung up on the what-ifs. One day at a time. You can nevergive up.
It helps to be your own advocate and have people onyour team; Parkinson Alberta has been very helpful. Theyprovide support services, education, advocacy and funds forresearch ( parkinsonalberta.ca). They are marvelous.
— As told to Jacqueline Louie and Amy Sawchenko
Brain surgery pioneered in Alberta gave Dave Pommer a new lease on life, and
relief from Parkinson’s disease.