For ten years, Colin Price has struggled with Parkinson’s Disease – he is what he calls a “Parkie”.
It is incurable and debilitating, impairing his movement but not his intellectual ability.
A former school teacher, he said he sees himself as coping with it rather than suffering from it.
Despite it, he has continued to farm for the past forty years, including with the Parkinson’s. He farms to this day.
Medication – some of it very powerful and behaviour changing – enabled him to carry out the role of mayor from 2012 to 2016.
But in the long term, the condition only goes one way – it gets progressively worse – though the symptoms of shaking and unsteadiness can be eased by drugs and, hopefully, by the forthcoming surgery.
He says: “Ten years ago last month, I went to a specialist in Tamworth because I thought I had a pinched nerve in my neck”.
The specialist told him to walk up the corridor and back and asked him what he thought the problem was. Colin Price said: “Pinched nerve” and the doctor replied: “No, it’s higher than that. You’ve got Parkinson’s”.
“It was a bit of a shock”, he says today, with understatement.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease. Treatment is about mitigating the symptoms. But Cr Price hopes a new operation may help.
The operation, in Westmead Hospital in Sydney involves the insertion of an electrode into his brain. The doctors manipulate the electrode to see what most suppresses the symptoms. Mr Price will be conscious to let the doctors know what seems to work and what doesn’t – where the the electrode is most effective.”
“I hope that it will enable me to go off some of the stronger medications and will give me improved well-being. This process has an excellent record”.
The disease is caused by a lack of dopamine, the chemical which helps the brain tell the muscles what to do – too little dopamine and the muscles don’t move the way the brain orders them to.
People with the disease find increasing difficulty in walking or in performing everyday tasks like eating a meal.
The mental ability of people with Parkinson’s is not impaired in the slightest.
Colin Price currently takes five dopamine tablets a day at three hourly intervals. This can result in a great variation in physical performance from having quivering hands to excellent coordination.
At one moment, he might be shuffling on his feet but an hour later he might walk normally.
The effects of the disease are extremely individual. Each person is affected very differently. One might be able to operate near normally with medication and get around relatively easily while another could be completely immobilized despite having medication.
There is a Glen Innes Parkinson’s support group which brings what Colin Price calls Parkies together.
The town has a connection with Parkinson’s Disease in that one of the world’s foremost experts, Professor Glenda Halliday, attended Glen Innes High School.
Parkinson’s NSW InfoLine 1800 644 189