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Running with Parkinson's

Sep 23, 2011

Gary Pauley runs in his home town of Parker, SD.

Gary Pauley ran the Sioux Falls Half Marathon in September of 2010 in two hours and 10 minutes. A good race time for any 48-year-old, but Pauley has Parkinson’s Disease. Despite a 20-year Army career including multiple deployments to hostile areas, the Parker resident’s greatest challenge came at age 46 when he was diagnosed with the brain disorder. His symptoms included movement problems, shakiness and impaired balance. Pauley began a rigorous regimen of running and biking to help maintain his health.

As his condition worsened, exercise became harder and Pauley considered stopping running altogether. “I realized I needed to continue to exercise as long as possible in order to keep my quality of life,” says Pauley. He decided to have a deep brain stimulation (DBS) device implanted to help manage some of the disabling motor symptoms of his disease. “It offered me the best chance to reach a ‘new normal,’” he says.

The device was implanted in April of 2010 and activated in May. And his symptoms are not as noticeable as before. “I like when people who don’t know that I have Parkinson’s look at me and say I would have never guessed anything was wrong,” says Pauley.

After his surgery, Pauley came up with a “bucket list” of things he wanted to do. Running the half marathon was first on the list and his next big run is the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 mile on October 2nd in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He was chosen as one of this year’s 25 Medtronic Global Heroes - runners with implanted medical devices who continue to pursue their passions with the help of medical technology.

“I have pressed on through the progression of the disease and have managed to continue to do the activities I have always enjoyed,” says Pauley.  I asked him if there is a race he is preparing for after the Twin Cities race. “There are a couple of short road races I am thinking about running in, but actually I am just trying to stay in good shape ‘til high school basketball season starts,” he says. He officiates boys and girls basketball during the winter. “That’s primarily my workout for December through February.”

Comments

11:54 am - Fri, September 23 2011
John Andrews said:
Good for Gary. I've heard that any sort of physical exercise is wonderful therapy for those with Parkinson's.
11:59 am - Wed, October 5 2011
Kim Fordham said:
My conversations with Gary leave me with one thought...quit making excuses.

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