‘Research could give me back my life again’

Margaret Keenan who suffers from Parkinson's. INPT15-206.
Margaret Keenan who suffers from Parkinson's. INPT15-206.

A seemingly simple task such as wrapping presents is far from straightforward when you have Parkinson’s, as Portadown woman Margaret Keenan can testify to.

Margaret (59), who suffers from stiffness and poor mobility, relies on carers, family and good friends and neighbours to help with everyday chores since she was diagnosed with the disease in October 2009.

And without daily medication to help control the symptoms she says she would be “completely bedridden”.

The Derryhale woman is just one of the people backing an appeal launched by charity Parkinson’s UK, in what is the 200th year of the condition first being recognised.

The appeal is hoping to raise funds to revolutionise Parkinson’s research. The main drug that people with Parkinson’s rely on hasn’t changed in over 50 years, and while some new drugs have been developed, no medication is available to slow down or stop the spread of the condition.

Margaret, who formerly worked in administration but took early retirement, said, “I started on medication straightaway when I was diagnosed and initially it worked well. However, four months ago, despite being on 24 tablets a day, symptoms became so bad I found it increasingly difficult to go out. I had to have carers in four times a day.”

A change in medication is, thankfully, improving her condition again and although she is still on a walker she is hoping to get out a bit more in the coming weeks.

But she says that research could vastly improve her quality of life. “It would be great if symptoms would disappear or become more manageable.

“A cure would mean I could have my life back. With Parkinson’s things are very different and can be difficult,” she said.

Margaret’s husband Alistair also relies on others for care, having lived with multiple sclerosis since 1989, a diagnosis that came just four years after the couple were married.

Despite health worries, Margaret describes herself as a “very positive, happy person” and as a member of Dobbin Church of Ireland her faith is important as are her friends within the church who provide not just spiritual but practical help as well.

She said, “One of them does the shopping for me every Friday and another turned up at Christmas to wrap the parcels. And my neighbour puts out the bin.

“Things like that may seen small but they are a big deal. We are so thankful for the support of all our family and friends.”