Parkinson's Disease affects as many as one million people in the United States, many, right here in Texoma.
While the physical and mental challenges that come with Parkinson's could easily get a person down, as Newschannel 6 Lindsey Rogers found out, there's a Texoma group that's offering support to patients and caregivers.
"Our world was turned upside down seven years ago. One day your husband is a pilot the next he is sitting at a desk doing his job," Margueriette Speed said.
Her husband, Garvin, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease seven years ago.
Before he was diagnosed, Garvin flew corporate jets for more than 30 years.
He now works at AT&T in Wichita Falls.
"The biggest challenge for me is fine motor skills. I work with a computer and telephone every day and the motor skills to operate a mouse and computer is sometimes difficult and that's a challenge," Garvin said.
Parkinson's is a chronic slowly progressive disease of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls muscle movement.
"The average age of onset is 57 but, it's not unheard of for people in their 30's to be diagnosed or even in their 80's," support group organizer Beth Kirkland said.
Symptoms associated with Parkinson's can include tremors, loss of automatic movement, like blinking, speech changes, slowed movement and can eventually lead to dementia.
"We can't go out for those walks or jogs so things do change but you take one day at a time and try to stay positive," Margueriette said.
That's the motto for the Parkinson's Support Group.
It formed a little more than a year ago and has been helping dozens of patients and caregivers ever since.
"They're able to cry with each other and laugh with each other and that's hard at first to be vulnerable sometimes," support group organizer Abbie Flinn said.
The group connects those in our community who are going through similar situations.
Patients can learn from each other and about the latest treatment options through guest speakers.
It also provides caregivers with the comfort of knowing they are not alone.
"He has a much better attitude than I do, he's very positive. He's a testimony not only to me, but for others," Margueriette said.
Kirkland and Flinn organized the Parkinson's Support Group. They say the Garvins are a positive example of how to not let the disease defy you.
"Only God knows how it's going to end up. But, it can have an adverse affect on your outlook on life if you let it and I just try to keep myself involved in every day activities and go from there," Garvin said.
The Parkinson's Support Group is open to any patient or caregiver in the Texoma area.
The group meets tonight and every fourth Tuesday of the month.
Meetings are at 2 p.m. and 6:30 at the North Texas Rehab Center.