Faces of Parkinson - The Love of the Game

Meet John Fisher. He is an avid golfer, tennis player, and fisherman. John is the husband of Gail, father of five, and grandfather to eleven beautiful grandchildren. He met his wife while they were attending the University of Illinois, got married two years later and started growing their family.

In 2005 John received the official diagnosis that he had Parkinson’s after seeing a neurologist. Prior to the diagnosis he lost his sense of smell, an early symptom of PD.  While in college, John had a summer job where he was exposed to the solvent trichloroethylene. This chemical has been linked to the later onset of PD. Eventually John’s primary care doctor recognized his complaint of his small handwriting (micrography) when he would write so his doctor suggested he see a neurologist.  At first the news was shocking since he was diagnosed shortly after retirement and hadn’t planned for a chronic illness. Even though Parkinson’s presents some challenges it hasn’t stopped him from doing the things he loves.

John is involved in many of the Parkinson’s specific exercise programs and enjoys them all. One of his favorites is the Golfing for Parkinson’s program. John Hughes is the instructor who is a PGA Master Professional, and founded the program. On the second Tuesday of every month the group meets at Falcon’s Fire Golf Course to play. Each month there is a solid group of golfers who come out and play.

John has participated in golf all his adult life therefore he knew he would enjoy John Hughes’s group. He plays with his golf partner Larry, who he met in the Pedaling for Parkinson’s group. Since he joined, John has made tremendous improvements to his swing. John Hughes provides lessons and shows each player that having Parkinson’s doesn’t stop your ability to play the sport.

These Parkinson’s specific exercise groups help make connections with people in the community and bring about new and special friendships. Becoming involved in not only the exercise programs, but the support groups can provide knowledge that isn’t always provided online. For those that are diagnosed, John suggests finding a neurologist who is specialized in movement disorders. He visits a specialist at the University of Florida’s movement disorder clinic where he has participated in more than five trials. Having knowledgeable doctors and staying active are important for those who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Keep moving and staying active in your every day life and continue doing the things you love to do.




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