Smile Or Go To Jail!

Many spectators enjoy watching a good cycling race, especially when it is at the Olympic Games. Now, however, the level of enjoyment has been set to a high standard by the Surrey police. Mark Worsfold, 54, did not meet that bar when he was consequently thrown to the ground, handcuffed and brought to the police station where he was charged with breach of the peace. He was allegedly in breach of the peace because he did not support a smile while observing the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, Worsfold is not capable of displaying a smile or a frown on his face since his ill-fated diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 2010.

Worsfold is a former soldier and a martial arts instructor who has a range of symptoms that vary almost hourly. Like most Parkinson’s patients, Worsfold’s struggles can be seen in his facial expressions, or lack thereof. The muscle rigidity in his face affects his ability to control how he would like to express himself. Although Worsfold was most likely enjoying the race, he can easily be perceived as having a hostile appearance.

Whether there was an absence of compassion, a chronic misunderstanding or simply plain ignorance, this is the type of treatment that patients with Parkinson’s disease have to suffer through each day. Raising awareness of this life-altering disease will help reduce the amount of assumptions that many sufferers face – whether the assumption be that they are publicly intoxicated or planning to attack athletes during Olympic events. A more empathetic approach needs to be practiced and what better way to start than to have a party to kick it off. “Shake It Up For Parkinson’s” will bring awareness and education to the community. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease should be welcomed in the community and at public events, rather than have to face the assumptions thrown at them each day.

Hope to see you there!

*Don’t miss a special evening with rock legend Tom Cochrane in support of the Morton & Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Centre at the Toronto Western Hospital. Set in the fabulous Capital Event Theatre, the event will include an open bar, great food, a silent auction and amazing entertainment. 



Parkinson’s and Discrimination

Tremors or shaking that cannot be controlled is a major symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Modifications to language, speed and facial expressions are also common. With the decrease of mobility and independence, depression is a side effect often observed in those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The struggle is hard not only for the individual with Parkinson’s but for their family and friends as well. Over and above the disease itself, its side effects and its impact on lifestyle and family and friends, Parkinson’s sufferers often have to deal with discrimination as well.

Shaking, slurring speech and slowness are symptoms that often cause Parkinson’s disease sufferers to be mistaken for intoxicated individuals. Examples of this kind of discrimination include when a Parkinson’s sufferer is yelled at in public, is refused service and even is arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

Simple activities that most of us take for granted, such as buying groceries at the supermarket or attending a restaurant for dinner with friends, are often more difficult for Parkinson’s sufferers with decreased mobility and physical impairments. However, participating in such outdoor and social activities often bring joy and happiness and ease loneliness. Parkinson’s sufferers should be encouraged and assisted in enjoying the same freedoms as healthy individuals.

Feeling isolated, uncomfortable and/or nervous in public is not conducive to alleviating the everyday stress and struggles of Parkinson’s sufferers. Public drunkenness is not only illegal in Canada, it can also be very embarrassing- not a quality anyone wants falsely assume.   

People should look and investigate carefully before pointing fingers. Making Parkinson’s sufferers more self-conscious is not helpful when it comes to promoting a positive attitude. If the public were more educated and aware of how serious the disease is, what exactly the symptoms are and how prevalent they are, it may do a lot to reduce these kinds of hurtful mistakes.