Meet MedicAlert Foundation member Peter Richards, a humble man and avid traveller, who thought his time abroad might be at an end when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 13 years ago.
“After almost seven years of gradual decline, and despite everybody’s best efforts to alleviate my Parkinson’s symptoms, I was in a tough spot, finding it difficult to walk for long periods and suffering significant left hand tremors.” Peter says.
What happened next would come as a welcome shock to both Peter and his wife Kathy, as the pair headed to Brisbane to discuss Peter’s suitability for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery.
“The revolutionary treatment involves surgeons placing electrodes deep into the affected parts of a Parkinson’s sufferer’s brain,” Peter says.
“These electrodes are connected by wire leads to battery powered neuro stimulators implanted in the patient’s chest. Electrical impulses are sent to the electrodes to help alleviate certain physical symptoms of Parkinson’s, including slowness of movement and tremors”.
On 1 April 2009 Peter underwent DBS surgery. Seven weeks later, he and his wife Kathy embarked on a cruise ship to Asia.
“Having DBS was clearly the best decision Kathy and I ever made,” he says.
While the surgery had improved his physical capabilities, Peter says his confidence and peace of mind still wavered, as he feared what might happen if caught in an emergency, without someone to explain his condition and various implants.
“MedicAlert seemed like an obvious choice to me, if I was unable to speak for myself in an emergency, doctors would still know that I had electrodes and battery powered neuro stimulators implanted in my head and chest,” Peter says.
“In the wrong situation this could pose significant health risks, so it’s great to have that peace of mind, and it’s allowed us to travel to Asia with confidence, not once or twice, but five times since I had the surgery.”
Peter explains that it wasn’t only he who benefitted from his MedicAlert Foundation membership, it was his wife too.
“Kathy works part-time, so it allows both her and I to feel more relaxed at home, or out and about, and most importantly allows us to maintain our independence.”
“All in all it’s given me the confidence to be part of the real world, which is priceless.”
Grateful for the assistance he received over many years, Peter is now a very active member of Parkinson’s SA and the Parkinson’s SA Deep Brain Stimulation Group. The 65-year-old says that he has definitely found his calling in helping others, and outside of a few more overseas trips, Peter says that is how he plans to spend his days.
To watch the miracle of Deep Brain Stimulation surgery click here
For more information on Parkinson’s SA click here