Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Crossing the Finish Line of a 5K Run Was Just a Start for Young Woman with Parkinson's Disease

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Crossing the Finish Line of a 5K Run Was Just a Start for Young Woman with Parkinson's Disease

Article excerpt

As the finish line for her 5K event got closer, Cary Ann Bailey cried.

A friend running near her shouted, "Keep going, you can do it " again and again. People in the distance clapped for her. In her own mind she pushed herself, "Keep going, keep going, keep going "

She was tired. No one would blame her if she quit. No matter how close to the end she was, she had nothing to be ashamed of. She still had visible scars from brain surgery three months earlier to ease her Parkinson's disease. Electrodes were deep in her brain. A small box spitting electric impulses into her nervous system was implanted in her chest.

The road she was on was much longer than the 5K she was running.


Bailey, 37, was a registered nurse at Marshall Browning Hospital in Du Quoin, Ill., when the tremors began.

She figured it was stress. She worked full time, was a wife, mother of two children and commuted for a week once a month to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., where she was working on her nurse practitioner degree.

Upon graduation, she became a hospitalist nurse practitioner at Marshall Browning.

The tremors got worse. While working with an interventional cardiologist, she went into denial about what was happening. Her walking was increasingly labored and the inability to keep her hands still while working was becoming noticeable.

A neurologist in Du Quoin eventually sent her to St. Louis University Hospital where doctors used DaTscan, a new technology that can distinguish the elements of Parkinson's disease. Before DaTscan, physicians could spend months in a process of elimination until Parkinson's disease was the last possible diagnosis.

While it's not without some risks such as the injection of a radioactive chemical into the brain the DaTscan sped up her process and confirmed in August that Bailey had Parkinson's.

Shortly after the tests, Bailey quit work. Her shaking and instability prevented her from doing her job. She now receives disability benefits as she fights the disease. Still, she vows to return to work. And she wants to teach and train other nurse practitioners. "This disease had taken me away from me. This was," she said, pausing to hold back tears, "identity theft."

Late last year the hospital offered her a technology called deep brain stimulation. Surgeons would sink two electrodes into her brain, then run wires to a small device that would pump a steady stream of low-voltage electricity into her brain.

In most cases, the tremors would subside enough that only a trained eye could detect them. "I'd taken the medicine and it worked a little, but I said, 'Let's do it.'"

She had to do two surgeries while awake. On the first, they would bolt her head to the operating table through skin because the procedure was so delicate that she couldn't move even a millimeter.

On Jan. 19, for six hours surgeons drilled a hole in the crown of her head to sink electrodes into her brain. …

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