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Nobody should be stigmatized by illnesses
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To the editor,

In August of 2003, I was hit by a car as a pedestrian. The driver ran a red traffic light and hit me as I was legally crossing in a crosswalk at the corner of Central and Oliver Streets in Wichita. The impact threw me atop the man’s car hood. Then, he slammed on the brakes, tossing me to the hard pavement. I was transported by ambulance to Wesley Hospital in Wichita and my mother was transported by a kind policeman in his squad car which followed my ambulance to the hospital. I suffered a broken leg, in which surgeons put a metal plate with seven screws in my knee. After surgery, my mom was given a bed next to mine in a semi-private room. That arrangement worked fairly satisfactorily for a few days, until one day she sat upright, her eyes went cross-eyed and she slumped forward. My leg was clamped inside an exercise machine, so I couldn’t do anything except to holler “Nurse!!” Luckily, a kind nurse caught my mom in her arms before she hit the floor. Mom was placed upon a stretcher and taken down to the CT-scan department.  After about an hour, a doctor came in and told me: “James, your mother has had a massive stroke. She won’t talk, eat, drink, or care for herself ever again.” Naturally, I was devastated.  Several weeks later, my mom indeed passed away.

I was alone in Esbon, having left the hospital in a wheelchair. It is hard to pinpoint, but I began to have light-headed spells. I went to a doctor who initially treated me for blood pressure, but he thought I was having a bit of ataxia, likely due to my car-pedestrian accident. I was prescribed medicines by him until he was  partially disciplined by a medical Board for ethical violations pertaining to his own actions. Nevertheless, doctor-after-doctor kept prescribing me more and more RX-medicines. In 2013, I had the misfortune of trying to move a dangling tree branch that was hanging above my head. I was afraid it would snap and hit a school kid who sat under that tree. Instead, I barely touched it, and it came down and speared my forehead above my left eyebrow. Yet, I have a scar above that eye as a reminder.

A few members of my family had (and have) tremors. My mother’s grandfather William Hampel of Great Bend had his left hand shake constantly, back in the 1930s. That was long  before Parkinson’s even had a name. One of my Riedl second-cousins just died of Parkinson’s complications last month in Wichita at age 62. Like me, he started showing symptoms in his 40’s. 

Only recently, have some of my doctors speculated a combination of genetically-caused Parkinson’s and medicine-induced Parkinson’s. Just recently, I was hospitalized over two weeks to get my medicines regulated in balance and to ease bouts of anxiety and paranoia. Nobody should be stigmatized, illnesses ARE illnesses. Adequate treatment is the key to improvement.

James A. Marples