It's Time to Celebrate This Family's Inspiring Fight Against Parkinson's
Once a serious illness strikes in a family, nothing is the same. Gail and Mike Achin know this better than anyone.
The Achins' new chapter started 11 years ago, when 50-year-old Mike was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Once they found out this diagnosis, their approach was a brilliant, but unusual one: Being proactive. They immediately founded team DominACHIN, pronounced like "domination". They were, and are still currently, searching tirelessly and desperately for a cure. In the meantime, however, they needed to become involved with all of the aspects of Parkinson’s disease. Their proactive attitude quickly expanded past the two of them and evolved into a fundraising machine.
“We have marched on Capitol Hill lobbying for the fight against [Parkinson’s Disease],” Gail Achin explained. “Attended national and local walks every year, volunteered in clinical trials, raised funds, got certified as Rock Steady boxing coaches, and spoke with anyone who wanted to listen or had a question about the disease.”
Parkinson’s became a little less scary. They were living their lives, being active, and fighting relentlessly. Things were going well. Unfortunately, in the past couple of years, Gail began to notice that Mike was experiencing difficulty performing regular daily tasks.
“Mike started taking medication every three hours,” Gail explained. “If Mike wanted to grab the car door handle, there would be a disconnect from his brain to his hand. This medication allowed him to grab that door handle and open it.”
In time, the medicine that was working no longer lasted three hours until his next allotted dosage. This lag was between the medication working and the next time he was allowed to have his medicine. This would cause Mike to have “off” times.
During these times, essentially every task, was a tremendous ordeal that required Herculean strength. Things like getting dressed, tying his shoes, and brushing his teeth became daunting chores.
This new reality is a difficult shift to make, especially with a seemingly unstoppable power couple, ready to fight Parkinson’s. Mike began to feel overwhelmed and disheartened.
“His world was getting smaller and smaller,” Gail explained, “Anxiety became a problem due to Mike’s fear of the medication wearing off too early. His desire to attend events diminished and Mike pretty much became very comfortable just staying at home. Before we knew it, life was not chugging merrily along anymore.”
This sort of behavior is typical. People facing chronic illnesses, especially ones without a clear-cut cure, can easily slip into depression and face overwhelming anxiety. Mike’s world was beginning to close in. His every action hinged on the fear that his medication would wear off too early, leaving him in a seemingly endless “off” moment.
Read on to see how this couple overcame Mike's Parkinson's disease.
Photo source: The Sun Chronicle/Mark Stockwell