Parkinson’s Specialist Nurses are highly trained and experienced nurses based in communities of need. They are dedicated to supporting local people living with Parkinson’s.
These Nurses are funded 50/50 by Parkinson’s NSW and the Local Health District in which they are based. This series of articles invites clients to talk about the value of Nurses to their local Parkinson’s community.
When work opportunities on the mid north coast coincided for Nicola Mercer and her then-partner 25 years ago, they bought an acre of land in the hills near Woolgoolga.
“We didn’t plan to stay so long,” says Nicki, who is originally from the UK and lived and worked in London, Paris, and the Italian Dolomites in earlier years. “But this place sort of gets to you.”
Six years ago, when Nicki was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, she went into shock at the result. “I knew it was something neurological, but the more I Googled the worse I felt,” she recalls.
“For about two years I didn’t contact anyone for support. Eventually I went to one Support Group meeting and was invited to the Christmas party. I didn’t know anyone there and hesitated. But Vince Carroll, the Parkinson’s Specialist Nurse, suggested we meet up at the club before the lunch so that he could explain his role to me.”
This was a breakthrough for Nicki, who had been feeling very unsure because her treatment wasn’t going well.
“Vince has been an absolute Godsend to me,” she says. “I was feeling quite devastated about things. He was very empathetic, but also very practical. He encouraged us to get our wills in order and get our finances sorted out.
“He explained about the services and encouraged me to exercise, which is so crucial to managing the condition. He is instrumental in getting exercise classes going and it’s just so important to your health with Parkinson’s.
“I see my exercise physiologist twice a week when I’m able. My balance isn’t good and I’ve been hospitalised five or six times. I’m realising I must take things more carefully.
“I can’t do everything, but I’m back to driving and I’ve taken up gardening which I’d never done before. The acre now has lots of garden. My family is amazed, although my mother and grandmother both gardened.
“Early on I contacted Vince a lot more than I do now. I’m managing much better with a new treatment. When my partner and I split about 18 months ago, Vince encouraged me to keep in touch with my friends and family and not go into my shell.
“It’s so important to keep up with friends, particularly when you’re single and family is overseas. Vince has been very practical and very supportive. I think the Parkinson’s Specialist Nurse service is terrific.”