It was as if an angel floated by when Joanne called me out of the blue one day. I met Joanne years ago at the first Parkinson’s Women Support lunch. Since then, we’ve both encountered voice problems as side effects of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

I hadn’t spoken to her in ages. With the skill of a sleuth, she quickly assessed my predicament. I had given up trying to fix my voice problem.

Three moves from one home to another in the last few years had left me drained. I was quietly slipping into social distancing before the virus ever appeared. Off the circuit and out of the loop, packing and repacking, I was sinking into the life of a recluse.

I remember her words, “Never give up trying to improve yourself!” as we discussed options for jumpstarting our ability to talk. “Improve?” I asked myself. I had forgotten the concept of change for the better. I don’t know how she did this, but within minutes of talking to her, her encouragement turned me around, and filled me with hope. I realized that maybe I did have some leads to revisit that might help with my speech. The rest is history.

I contacted the Parkinson Voice Project, and I found out to my surprise that in the last couple years, they have expanded their project in Texas to become a national program. They have several centers in the Bay Area that are listed on their website. I’m near a speech therapist at San Francisco Kaiser Permanente who offers their SPEAK OUT® program that focuses on articulation and speaking with intent.

I made an appointment with the speech therapist who is amazing and informative. I am hopeful that the therapy program will improve my ability to communicate. My heart is filled with gratitude for Joanne because I would not have been inspired had she not initiated a call of support.

My friend Joanne said, “So happy that the doors are opening for you. I must give the credit to God for I have been praying about this for the both of us. Let’s keep each other posted.”

What a difference a call makes in the Parkinson’s community!


6 thoughts on “A Call Makes a Difference

  1. Hi Darcy and Resa,
    The couple times I made it from Santa Rosa to Palo Alto to join your luncheon group, there were a few more than six women, but not many. I follow the group and read all the posts and your blogs, Darcy, but getting to Palo Alto is a long slog these days, traffic being what it is. It is wonderful that you continue to meet. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

  2. Dear Darcy,

    I am so glad to learn that you found the Speak Out program. I am currently in my 3rd week of the program here in Fresno. It is run by Fresno State, using grad students in the Speech Therapy program. I have a wonderful therapist named Lyndsie Maguire. The program is free for Parkinson participants.

    I have met you previously, when you spoke herein Fresno ,, ,about the women’s support group you started in the Bay Area . Susan Curtis and I were inspired by your example, and decided to start our own group here, as none existed exclusively for women. We meet on the first Monday of each month, at a restaurant, for lunch. It is fun and informative as we share common issues,etc. We also laugh a lot and renew spirits. Sometimes we have a speaker, such as a nutrition expert or physical therapist. We have anywhere from 15-25 in attendance now. Several of the women have been in the speech program and have shared their experiences.

    I hope you enjoy having the program to inspire you. I especially like the idea of intent, in all we do. I was sorry to read that you have felt hopeless and out of touch. You are the one who gave us inspiration, so we hope to return the favor.

    Warm regards, Sheron Schiller Sent from my iPad


    • Sheron, I do remember meeting you at the conference in Fresno and I’m thrilled that your women’s group has grown and flourished! I met the founder of Speak Out, Samantha Elandary at the Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Wash DC in 2018. In fact, I wrote about it in my blog, https://parkinsonswomen.com/2018/04/04/parkinson-voice-project-works-with-speech-problems/
      Since then (2018) I’ve been pining away for a similar program and now I’ve got my wish! Fortunately, I’m back in the swing of things now. Our women’s group just organized an event with Dr. Ray Dorsey, which we had to cancel last minute due to Coronavirus. I believe I read somewhere that he spoke in Fresno too. Thank you so much for your kind note. It is wonderful to have the support of a Parkinson’s community all around us!

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