Beaufort County support groups help those facing Parkinson's disease

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comMay 7, 2013 

Irene Hicks, left, and Cindy Carr of Beaufort, assistant state director of the Parkinson's Action Network, receive a proclamation from Port Royal Mayor Sam Murray declaring April as Parkinson's Awareness Month.


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Thanks to Irene Daise Hicks of Beaufort for sharing a glimpse into the world of those with Parkinson's disease.

Irene shares a poem she wrote for Parkinson's Awareness Month in April "in honor of the dedicated physical, occupational and speech therapists at Beaufort Memorial Hospital."

She said their work with her has helped her retain her independence.

Irene is a retired educator, finishing her 29-year career in 2000 as a guidance counselor at Beaufort High School. She grew up on St. Helena Island, married a Marine, moved away, and came back home.

She was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2007.

She said Beaufort County has a strong support network for persons with Parkinson's, caregivers, family members and medical professionals.

Four support groups meet regularly throughout the county, and Adrienne O'Neill of Hilton Head Island is state director of the Parkinson's Action Network.

The Beaufort County support groups have formed a coalition, which will present its third annual symposium at 11 a.m. June 1, at the University of South Carolina Beaufort New River campus.

A speaker from the National Parkinson Foundation will outline the "Aware in Care Kit" that prepares people with Parkinson's for a hospital visit, as well as medical professionals who will be treating them there.

Reservations for the symposium are required. For further information, call Adrienne O'Neill at 843-505-0175; or local support group leaders.

Local support groups:

  • Beaufort: 1:30 p.m. first Thursdays, Shell Point Baptist Church, 871 Parris Island Gateway; 843-525-1229

  • Bluffton/Sun City: 1 p.m. fourth Thursdays, Bluffton-Okatie Outpatient Center, 40 Okatie Blvd., No. 100; 843-705-6578

  • Hilton Head: 2:30 p.m. third Thursdays, Memory Matters, 117 William Hilton Parkway; 843-505-0175

  • A group also meets in the private Dataw Island development on St. Helena Island.

  • "Nose Over Toes"

    By Irene D. Hicks

    "Nose over Toes," the therapist says, as I struggle to rise from my seat.

    It takes a lot of effort, but I am determined I will not be beat.

    You see, I have a constant companion now, who is really not a friend,

    His name is Parkinson and he will probably be with me until the end.

    Perhaps the scientists can find a cure and knock him off the track,

    as I really need to get this adversary off my stooped back.

    "Nose over toes," I say to the researchers as they struggle to succeed.

    Awareness, money and support are what I hear they need.

    "Nose over toes," I say to the lawmakers who fight the budget wars.

    Remember, Parkinson's research is such a worthy cause.

    "Nose over toes," I want to say to a friend I hadn't seen for a while.

    "I was going to call, she says," and I see pity in her smile.

    "Don't feel sorry for me," I think as I push my Rollator away.

    "Nose over toes," is how I try to start each day.

    Those of us with Parkinson's cannot go wrong,

    If we remember exercise and positive attitudes help us to be strong.

    During April, let us proclaim in one loud voice,

    "Nose over toes" is our daily choice.

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