“We do not suffer from Parkinson’s, we live with it”

Interviews

Author: Roisin McCormackPublished: 28 March 2019

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WPC blogger Garry Ballenger

In the final part of our series profiling the bloggers supporting the World Parkinson Congress (WPC) 2019, we talk to US blogger Garry Ballenger. He reflects on his favourite moments from past WPC events, connecting with other ‘Parkies’ – and why people in the Parkinson’s community should be saying ‘yes’ to everything


Describe yourself in a sentence.

I am living well with Parkinson’s and I am interested in life because the world is fascinating.

Do you have a particular audience in mind when you’re writing? 

To be honest, I mainly write for myself as I find it really therapeutic. Otherwise, I like other ‘Parkies’ – as well as my friends and family – to read my blog as it’s nice to share my experience with them. 

Is there an aspect of Parkinson’s that you’re most passionate about?

I want people to know that we do not suffer from Parkinson’s, we live with it – and live darn well I might add. For me, living well means getting out in the world. I do that by leading my Parkinson’s support group and throwing myself into everything I can.

How widely read is your blog and in which countries?

I do not have much of an audience at the moment, but I hope to grow it!

Talk us through your routine: when do you find time to blog?

I usually only write in the mornings, first thing. In general, I am more of a reader than a writer, but I do try and write when I can.

What physical challenges do you face in writing and do you use any technology to support you?

I like typing because speech is such an effort for me now. When I’m typing I can get my precise meaning out through written text. My hands are fine so typing isn’t a big problem for me, especially as I’ve had deep brain stimulation. I had that done in 2003 and it has helped me tremendously. I can’t put my socks on without it. It was a life changer!

What do you hope people will take away from reading your blog? 

That Garry is still standing! I hope they look at me and it motivates them to live well. I want them to, whenever they get the chance, stick their hand up and say: “I’ll do it!”. I want people to just say ‘yes’ to everything.

How did you get involved with the WPC?  

I’m not sure, it’s been such a long time. The first WPC I went to was in Scotland in 2010. I remember I got to play golf at St Andrews, the famous golf course. I’m really into golf, I try and play twice a week, so that was wonderful. I am still in contact with some of the lovely people I met along the way. 

Can you share any memorable moments from the last one you attended?

Definitely taking part in David Leventhal’s Dance for Parkinson’s. Moving through exercise is the best way to live well and David got a whole room of people dancing, there must have been over  100 of us.

What are you most looking forward to at WPC2019? 

I’m looking forward to the whole show! Being there, learning all that I can and bringing it back home. I am very excited about going to Japan, as I’ve never been before. We’re going to stay for two weeks, me and my wife and my yoga teacher – who will be teaching at WPC.


Read more:

Brian Lowe: “Always look on the bright side of life”

World Parkinson Congress: all about the sushi

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