Taking a step -- or five -- in the right direction
MARGARET Mullarney knew something was seriously wrong when her right leg starting dragging and her handwriting became inexplicably small and cramped.
Then one day, the former solicitor and life coach from Ballinteer, Dublin, found herself on a golf course and couldn't remember how to play the game.
She went to see her GP, who referred her to a neurologist, who diagnosed her with Parkinson's.
"It was absolutely a huge shock. I was devastated," she told the Irish Independent.
"For the first three months I wallowed in self pity but then I decided I would take ownership of it and get on with it," she said.
Now eight years later, she is the founder of a charity to provide support and self-help for the 10,000 people in Ireland suffering from the progressive neurological disorder.
The 56-year-old mother of two launched Move4Parkinson's at Dublin's Mansion House yesterday to coincide with Parkinson's Awareness Month this April.
While the cause of the debilitating disease remains unknown and the symptoms vary from patient to patient, common traits include tremors, rigidity, and slowness of movement.
Ms Mullarney is encouraging other sufferers to get active and follow five simple steps to improve their quality of life.
They include educating themselves about nutrition, exercise, medication, the importance of emotional wellbeing and alternative treatments.
The charity will host a Patient Empowerment Day on June 20 to coincide with an international conference on Parkinson's Disease and other movement disorders at the Dublin Convention Centre, June 17-21.
In the meantime, Ms Mullarney is seeking volunteers and sponsors and can be contacted at move4parkinsons.com.