I have Canada on my mind lately because I am headed to Montreal in October for the Third Annual World Parkinson’s Congress. This international roundup will feature the top brains in PD research, so I am looking forward to this great opportunity to learn what research is on the PD horizon. There is also a day-long pre-conference course on “Fundamentals of PD”, which I think will really help me get a good grounding in symptoms, therapies, and futures for people with PD.
OK….let’s reveal the whole truth…yes I’m really excited about the conference, but maybe wouldn’t be quite soooooo excited if it were in…say, Macon, Georgia or Omaha, Nebraska. I have never been to Montreal (or eastern Canada for that matter), so I am booking some extra time to play tourist. I’ll be close to University of Quebec/Montreal campus, well-served by an excellent metro system, and will use one of my weekend days to take a day tour to Quebec City. I get to brush off my incredibly rusty, tres mal française. I’ve now had two different people tell me that Montreal is well known for that famous French pastry, the…um, bagel. (Avec crěme fraiche…yum!)
Having my mind on our northern neighbor makes me wonder about PD statistics. Are the number of people with Parkinson’s about the same percentage comparing Canada and US? To my surprise, yes.
As Mark Twain said, “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Take these stats with a huge grain of salt, especially the worldwide one. However, all the projections I come across predict the number of people with Parkinson’s to grow, especially as the population in the industrial world ages and life expectancy worldwide improves. The European Parkinson’s Disease Association did a fascinating study concluding: “We estimated that in 2005 the number of individuals aged over 50 with Parkinson’s was between 4.1 and 4.6 million. We project that by 2030 this number will more than double to between 8.7 and 9.3 million.” (Follow the link for an eyepopping chart on projections for individual countries. The biggie is of course China…projected to go from 2 million in 2005 to 5 million in 2030.)
In a very cool program, the World Parkinson Conference organizers set you up with a Canadian “Parkinson’s buddy”. This is a Canadian who is attending the conference and is roughly at the same level of PD progression. I have been matched up with a woman who (like me) has been diagnosed for about a year. We’ve been exchanging emails and (no surprise here) have some symptoms/history in common, and some not.
A quick note on symptoms since this is a status posting: Since my last status posting, I visited my neurologist and got my meds upped a bit. The “theraputic range” for the dopamine agonist I take (Ropinirole) is 8 mg to 24 mg a day; I’m now up to 16 mg. This has taken care of the tremoring in my right hand – Yay! I am enjoying the last golden days of summer and thus, am a bit slack on hitting the gym. But I’m getting some sort of exercise most every day and hope to get out for more hiking. The picture with this post was from our recent camping trip to Mt. Rainier, where we did some gorgeous (and steep!) hikes.
By the way, in preparation for traveling to Montreal, I am determined to learn “O Canada” en française. Naturally, my Parkinson’s buddy (from BC) and another British Columbian of my acquaintance don’t know the French lyrics. So I Googled for both French lyrics and their translation (which I knew was quite different than the English lyrics). Where did I find them? Gotta love Canada — on a hockey blog, of course!