Still golfing, just with a cart now

September 2022 Good News

Frieda deHaan describes her husband, Sidney, as a remarkable man. "If one door closes, he will find another to open,” she says. Amongst his friends, Sidney is known as the "Amazing Man" – not quite Superman, but certainly extraordinary in how he has handled the challenges he has faced.

Sidney spent most of his professional life behind the wheel, as both a delivery and school bus driver. He was, and still is, very athletic, enjoying the outdoors through fishing, camping, and hunting with his two sons. Sidney volunteered as a member of the Mission Search and Rescue, never shying away from an opportunity to help someone in need. The family also owned a farm, where they sold fresh eggs, vegetables, and consignment crafts. Sidney's active personal and professional life kept him very busy.

However, fifteen years ago, things began to change after Sidney's Parkinson's disease (PD) diagnosis. At first, his symptoms were not very noticeable, starting off as mild tremors. His loved ones could not believe he had PD, but as time went on, Sidney had no choice but to let things go because of the disease's progression. First, he said goodbye to some of his hobbies, like hockey. Then he had to stop volunteering with the Search and Rescue. And finally, after 25 years, they had to part ways with the farm.

While each of these losses was a painful and difficult one to bear, Sidney has maintained a unique attitude throughout it all. Not one to ever quit, he picked up other, more accessible things to occupy his time. He begins every morning by socializing with his many friends, eats a balanced diet, and makes sure to engage in daily physical activity. Sidney still enjoys golfing; he just takes a cart with him now. Frieda is an amateur musician, so he learned to play the fiddle, but had to stop because of his tremors. This did not prevent him from pursuing his musical passions, however – he simply learned to play the harmonica instead.

Sidney and Frieda wish the public knew more about Parkinson's and that the disease goes beyond just a tremor. "People only see what is on the outside," Frieda says. "So, if you have mild tremors, then you can live a normal life, right?" While frustrated with the general lack of knowledge about this disease and its impact on loved ones and carepartners, they do not blame anyone. Instead, Frieda and Sidney state that more awareness and understanding are critically needed. "One thing our friends have told us is: why have we not heard about all this before?"

Sidney has much advice for someone newly diagnosed with PD. He emphasizes that you should never give up and that there is always something you can do, especially if you are open to different areas of your community. He recommends keeping busy and trying new things, as well as joining a group of like-minded people going through similar experiences.

These days, Frieda and Sidney say they do their best to carry on, one day at a time. After his diagnosis, they made up their minds that they would face this challenge with humour, not sadness – and they continue to do just that.