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Up for the challenge

When Kaye Berndt participates with family and friends at Federation Square this month in her first A Walk in the Park, it will be a double celebration.

Not only is it the first time in 15 years of medical treatment for Parkinson’s that Kaye has felt up to the challenge, but she has undergone not one, but two rounds of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery, enabling her to participate.

Her first four-hour session of neurosurgery at St Vincent’s Private hospital in February missed the crucial location in her brain by 1mm. Heartbroken, but undeterred, Kaye fronted-up again the following month for another four-hour session. Now she feels better than she has done since her diagnosis 15 years ago.

Kaye and her family are delighted with the transformation to her lifestyle. She has moved from taking seven tablets every two hours before the surgery to only minimal medication afterwards.

“Before I didn’t know what day it was, but now my quality of life has really changed and I can enjoy my new grandson,” says Kaye

“We’re even thinking that we might be able to do another trip up north again.”

Kaye’s initial reaction upon diagnosis of Parkinson’s in 2005 was one of shock. She stopped work as a primary school integration aide and took a long caravanning holiday up north with her husband to help soften the blow.

However, her life started to change dramatically when she changed from tablets to an infusion-based Parkinson’s medication. She developed nodules and bruises on her stomach as a result of a 24/7 infusion of strong medication.

It was a chance encounter with Victor McConvey, Fight Parkinson’s’s Clinical Nurse Consultant who alerted her to the possibility that she may be a good candidate for DBS.

She was assessed by a psychiatric team to determine that she was a suitable candidate for the invasive surgery, which inserts a metal electrode into the part of the brain affected by Parkinson’s. Electrical impulses from a pacemaker-like control box embedded in the upper chest fire the electrode. Patients are awake during the procedure.

The 68-year-old can now look forward to many years of a more fulfilling life as a wife, mother and grandmother. And, was also able to take part in this year’s A Walk in the Park in Melbourne on 30 August.

You can help celebrate and support people like Kaye who are living with Parkinson’s. Donate to A Walk in the Park today.

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