“My first symptoms started at age 17. My grandfather had Parkinson’s and I never imagined it could happen to me,” says Manon Day of Montreal. She could not have known at the time that it would be 10 painfully long years before she would be diagnosed.
In the early stages, Manon had numerous fainting spells. She had trouble moving, rigidity, bladder dysfunction and stuttering. Manon consulted several neurologists over the years but none of them were able to diagnose her correctly.
“I wasn’t receiving the medical care that I desperately needed. The neurologists didn’t believe me and accused me of being a drug addict,” Manon said.
Manon’s refers to the years before diagnosis as the worst of her entire life as she had no idea what was happening and why. Nor could the doctors. Her physical state was deteriorating, and she had to stop her translation studies.
“In the fall of 2011, I had the opportunity to go at the Movement Disorder Clinic at the Montréal Neurological Institute,” she adds. A general practitioner referred her. This is where she met Dr. Ron Postuma. After a long consultation and detailed examination, she finally heard the words: “You have Young onset Parkinson’s disease.”
Manon was stunned and at the time, knew very little about Parkinson’s and expected that it was a geriatric disease, not something a 27-year-old would have.
Dr. Postuma was the only neurologist who was able to unravel her medical mystery. He prescribed an MRI and blood tests to rule out any other causes. She was put on levodopa and her symptoms significantly improved.
“I am very grateful towards Dr. Postuma—he saved my life. After my diagnosis, I had to adapt to a new reality. Because of YOPD, I choose not to conceive children. As of now, I focus on my health and well-being. I exercise daily and I have a nutritious diet,” says Manon.
At the Montreal Neurological Institute, she has access to a multidisciplinary team, which helped her to manage Parkinson’s well. A life-altering diagnosis such as Parkinson’s changed her life plans, but she has accepted it. The team also introduced her to the Canadian Open Parkinson Network, a nationwide database that researchers can access to perform ground-breaking studies on Parkinson’s.
“I am registered with the Canadian Open Parkinson Network and my unique YOPD can help and benefit the Parkinson’s medical community,” she adds.
Despite stuttering, Manon attends Parkinson Canada events and seminars in Montreal, which gives her the opportunity to meet other people with Parkinson’s. Connecting with fellow patients young or old, helps her to cope better with the disease.
In 2017, Manon created a Facebook group: ’Everything about Parkinson’s Disease’ and the online support group has grown up to over 12,500+ members. She informs patients about the disease to help them understand and accept their journey with Parkinson’s.
“I encourage them to consult movement disorder specialists. I often mention the importance of exercise for disease management. My online support group of over 12,500 members helps to raise awareness and break myths and stereotypes,” adds Manon.