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Lessons Learned from Parkinson’s Disease

Deriel Moore Courageously Shares His Personal Journey with the Diagnosis & Considers Launching a Support Group

Special to the Pulse BY VIC ANGLIN:

“I used to be a Sherman Tank. Now I’m a Volkswagen,” said Deriel Moore, Youth Director and Treasurer for First Baptist Church, Hatfield. Moore was officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in September, 2012. “I’ve had symptoms for four or five years, I just didn’t go to the doctor.”

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Parkinson’s is a disease of the nervous system that gets worse over time.  Nerve Cells in the brain degenerate, causing body movements to be disrupted, worsening over time. Some symptoms include Tremors, Rigidity, Akinesia (lack of movement or loss of spontaneous movement), slowness of movement, and problems with walking or posture. There is no known cause or cure.

Moore was raised in Baptist churches and has been at First Baptist, Hatfield, for the last 13 years with his wife, Tonya. He and Tonya met some 20 years ago at a ball in Hot Springs, Ark. They dated the next 12 months long distance because of their job locations and have been married 19 years. “She’s the wife in Proverbs,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

He credits his wife as his greatest advisor and supporter. “My wife said something like: ‘You’re still Deriel. You have Parkinson’s, but you’re not Deriel with Parkinson’s. That’s not your identity – don’t let Parkinson’s become your identity.’ And she told me to just be Deriel that has Parkinson’s, but the same Deriel I’ve always been,” Moore said. “That’s real good advice,” Moore continued. “It’s like realizing you’re not what you do.”

Moore said the disease has changed his life. “I was a tank all my life. Very aggressive. Athletic. A hard worker,“ he said. But now “you can’t accomplish or follow through with anything. You may last a few hours and then your legs give out or you shake,” he continued. “I used to walk straight up and proud. Now I stumble.”

Noting that the medical field has a great deal left to discover about this disease, Moore stated, “They do not in all sincerity know what’s caused Parkinson’s, but they can treat the symptoms.” And the symptoms are where Moore seeks relief. “Parkinson’s is not known to be terminal, but it can cause things to make you so miserable that your life is of no quality,” he said. “Now I’ve got the rest of my life to deal with the side-effects of it.”

Moore states that God is the biggest help in his life. “God’s taught me to accept whatever happens and to overcome adversity in His name and with His grace,” he said. “Just like a Running Back in Football. They always know the direction to go and they keep their feet on the ground and they know where the goal line is – only in this case the goal line is the Cross.”

Perhaps the biggest thing Moore’s learned? “I’ve learned to love more than I used to,” he said. “And if God allowed me to have this for that reason then it’s worth it.”

His attitude stays positive. “I’m not a pitiful wreck. I think I’ll make it several more years,” he said. “It’s an unknown road that I travel – that everybody travels. Most people just don’t know it.”

According to Moore, he and his wife are investigating the idea of starting a support group to help people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers (families) in the Mena, Hatfield, Cove and surrounding area. “In the future I’d like to look into Support Groups,” he said. “I’d like to look into the possibility of starting one here locally.”