TESTIMONY. “I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at 45”

Catalina doesn’t like the labels we put on Parkinson’s disease, bedridden patients in wheelchairs. The dynamic 52-year-old teacher wants to show another reality.

I never use the term parkinsonian, it’s the only “disease where we give an extraterrestrial name to people who suffer from it! I call it Joe, in reference to brother Dalton. You know, the little nervous and grumpy fidgeting all the time,” Catalina says humorously. The disease occurs in his life seven years ago. “That summer, we were on a boat. A good friend, a physical trainer, was intrigued by my gestures. He had already perceived what was not yet visible. He advised me to go see a neurologist and to take stock. It was the summer of my 45th birthday. I didn’t pay attention to it. I left it lying around…”

Back from vacation, this energetic teacher begins her return to school with enthusiasm. “I was a real Marsupilami. Every morning, I got up happily to find my kindergarten class.” The bubbly teacher does not listen to the alerts: she limps, her left arm loses its mobility and she is very tired. We stick the label of depression on his forehead.

“That day, a meteorite fell on my head”

“One morning, my left arm had curled up at my plexus.” She is convinced she had a stroke during the night: “I had paralyzed toes and stiffness all over my left side.” In the emergency room, the track of the AVC is retoquée, a multiple sclerosis is evoked, but it is finally a neurologist who poses the good diagnosis. “When she told me: ‘Madam, you have Parkinson’s’, I replied: ‘No, I’m too young.’ Honestly, the last thing you think about at 45 is Parkinson’s! That day, a meteorite fell on my head.”

In France, there are 25,000 new cases per year. It is the second neurodegenerative disease behind Alzheimer’s disease, and the second cause of motor disability in adults. It is diagnosed on average at age 55 and is more common in men than in women. It also affects younger and younger patients. Over the months, the disease takes a lot of space in Catalina’s body.

Facial and joint gymnastics, 5 km walk, qi gong, tai chi, and it works!

“I had six tendinitis, chronic back pain, I couldn’t grab a salad bowl. I had bloated and gained weight. Parkinson’s is a progressive degenerative disease, the evolutions are as different as the people who have it. Of an optimistic nature, I decided to fight to slow down the progress of the disorders and soothe the muscular pains as much as possible.

Since then, Catalina has stuck to a schedule of physical activities that has borne fruit: facial and joint gymnastics, 5 km walk, qi gong and tai chi. “I am more flexible than before! My drug treatment has not increased for three years, four pills a day. I am told that I am an example of resilience. I try to make this quote from Socrates my own: The fall is not a failure. Failure is staying where you fell.”

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