Nina Cheyne is the only neurological nurse in the Shoalhaven. On her patient books she has more than 400 people who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease.
She spends her days driving up and down the coast to ensure everyone in the Shoalhaven has access to support, including those in the Ulladulla area.
“People think it is just an old person’s disease, but it’s not,” Nina said.
“It can affect people in their 20s and 30s,” she said.
On Wednesday, September 28 Parkinsons sufferers from across the Shoalhaven gathered in Ulladulla for the Parkinson’s Forum organised by Nina Cheyne and Alison Easton.
“The idea is to bring them together and make sure they know they are not alone,” Nina said.
“We inform them about the disease, encourage them to network and tell them about new research so they see there is hope.”
There are no neurologists in the Shoalhaven and Nina said people in the area are at a major disadvantage in terms of access to resources.
“It is not marketed well either,” she said.
“I know people with Parkinson’s who have walked into a pub and been refused service because the bartender thinks they are drunk.”
The disease has four key characteristics including tremors, rigidity, slowness and balance and gait impairment. It also has more than 50 symptoms associated with it and while medication is available to control some of these, the effectiveness varies.
One person who has seen the darker side of the disease is Mollymook resident Andrew Winter. Andrew was a healthy, active man. He was president of Bondi Surf Life Saving Club, a keen surfer and a surf boat sweep.
He also studied at NIDA, has written six plays, a book of poems and released four CDs.
After being diagnosed in July 2015 with Parkinson’s he sank into depression, another more serious side effect. He did not go out or talk to anyone.
In an effort to regain control he moved to Mollymook however, it was not until February this year when he was walking on Mollymook Beach and having a swim when he had his epiphany.
“Instead of thinking about the things I can’t do, I started thinking about the things I can,” Andrew said.
“I had an attitude change.
“Now I train twice a day. I do sprints, gym workouts, swimming walking and bike riding.
“I usually train for about 1.5 hours.”
Andrew spoke at the forum to help inspire other people going through the disease to continue doing the things they can, and look at the glass as half full.
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