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Cade Works Hard at Living with Parkinsonís Disease

by Angela Cina,

Kim E. Vitcenda-Cade, 53, of Viroqua has been a crafter for most of her life.

She has used her talents to create two quilt panels for the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation "Parkinson’s Quilt Project," which seeks to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and the need for a cure.

Cade, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago, said she learned about the quilt project on Facebook in January.

"I got to thinking, ’Why not do it?’ and I e-mailed for particulars," she said.

The first two foot by two foot panel Cade made represents the importance of her faith. The panel resembles a stained-glass church window with a dove, representing God, in the center.

It took a week to complete the first panel.

"I sew fast," Cade said. "Quilting and sewing still makes sense to me."

Each person who submitted a quilt panel was required to write a brief essay.

Cade included the following with her panel: "My panel is a stained glass window it represents ’Faith’ which I have had to totally rely on 24/7 when learning to live daily with Parkinson. I am 53 years old and have walked a very long road, my diagnosis wasn’t easy.

"When I read about this project I knew I had to be a part of it, in my PD brain quilting/sewing still makes sense, not to say there aren’t days when I can’t lift my left arm to sew, thankfully the meds still work and when they kick in I am ready to get back to my quilting, turning back to my life regardless of having Parkinson or not.

"I tell people that Parkinson is my life challenge, that was given to me for a reason. God has a plan, with his help and by my actions I can be an example to others."

Cade created the second two-by-two-foot panel after the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation made a request to people to submit panels with a musical theme.

"They wanted to screen who they accepted, so I had to write a blurb why I wanted to be a part of the quilt," Cade said.

The panel, entitled, "Where Words Fail... Music Speaks," has the statement at its center. A robin is drawn below the words. The outer portion of the panel is composed of miniature musical instruments and sheet music, and the square within contains musical notes.

Cade included the following essay with the music-themed panel: "When I first thought about what music and Parkinson have in common, it was clear to me, being a person with Parkinson, that words were one of my greatest problems, mixing and slurring and sometimes having people give me ’that look,’ which meant whatever I had just said did not come out of my mouth like the clear sentence I had formed in my mind.

"Then I thought about how music reminds me of times in my life, when my left arm and hand allowed me to play a flute, do chords on a guitar, or my legs would allow me to dance.

"During this time a robin was very close to [the] house, singing loudly, spring was coming to Wisconsin.

"That is when my block came together, ’Where Words Fail... Music Speaks.’ I have left the panel edges rough, showing how with Parkinson my life has changed so, my edges are rough, my words fail, I shuffle with feet that used to dance, and hold my left arm as it shakes. Then the music plays on a radio or on TV, I close my eyes and remember when..."

This quilt panel was also finished in a week.

Six hundred individuals from the United States and other countries created panels for the quilt. The panels, which are put together in blocks, will be displayed at the World Parkinson Congress in Glasgow, Scotland, Sept. 28-Oct. 1.

"I guess it will be quite stunning when it hangs," Cade said. "I will get a book with pictures and the essays. I’ll get to read about how others have felt — we all use the same terminology.

"It’s a hard disease; there are worse diseases, yes," she continued. "This is a puzzling disease."


Cade was in her late 40s when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

"Driving home from work my left arm was numb and my mouth was droopy," she said. "My husband [Donald] looked at me and said, ’Are you ill?."

Although she was better by the next day, she continued to get more ill and her left arm was shrinking. She visited the doctor and was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease.

"I had no rash or bull’s-eye. If you’re achy and have a mysterious illness, test for Lyme’s," Cade said.

Time went on and Cade still wasn’t feeling well.

"Two doctors thought it was just in my head," Cade said.

A third neurologist, after looking through three years worth of medical records, diagnosed Cade with Parkinson’s disease.

"It was the most horrible three years," Cade said. "I knew I was sick. I felt bad because my husband heard about it every day."

When Cade heard the diagnosis, she said she was thankful it was not multiple sclerosis.

"You don’t die of Parkinson’s disease; it’s inconvenient. You die from things that come along with Parkinson’s disease," she said. "There are all different kinds of Parkinson."

Cade said her type of Parkinson’s disease is one where she shakes more on the inside than on the outside. She said when she walks she tracks to the left.

"I have no problem driving," Cade said. "If the meds are in between, I’ll sit until they have caught up with me. There have been times where my husband has had to get me."

She also wears a visor in stores because the lights throw off her balance.

"With Parkinson’s disease sweating is a symptom," she said. "If I have a ’spell’ it’s awful and embarrassing."

Acupuncture has helped lessen her symptoms.

"I can’t tell if I’m shaking or not. I don’t notice it," she said.

Cade makes herself walk up and down stairs at home to access her computer and sewing machine.

"Is it easy? No. I have to go up and down to do what I need to do," Cade said.

A year ago at Christmastime, she was selected as a candidate for deep brain stimulation (DBS) at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center.

She was very close to having the surgery where leads were to be implanted in her brain, but it was halted; doctors weren’t sure if the internal shaking could be controlled.

"I’m still in the program if I need it," she said.

Cade said Parkinson’s disease is painful and tiring because she doesn’t sleep well.

"People may not realize the pain from muscle spasms," she said. "It’s not an easy disease; be your own advocate and have a support system.

"Find your own path," Cade said. "Don’t let Parkinson’s disease win. There are lots of meds out there; if one is not helping, find one that does. Open your mouth."

"I think this Parkinson’s disease is for a reason," Cade said. "Maybe how I’m dealing with it will affect or help someone else."

Cade said she wants people to know that if they see her not sure-footed, not to assume she’s drunk and if they think she needs help, ask.

Life goes on

For 18 years she was in the lab testing aggregate samples for Kraemer.

"One day I realized I was not doing a good job. It took a long time to do things," Cade said. "I hid it well; I didn’t want to give up."

She said it was "humbling" to approach human resources about her job. She asked if she could apply for the position of scale operator at the quarry located half-way down the Genoa Hill along Hwy. 56 west.

"This is my second year doing scales and paperwork," Cade said. "I started as a scale operator, so I’ve gone full circle."

"I’m stubborn about working. I’m going to work as long as I can," she said.

In her spare time Cade continues to pursue her artistic hobbies.

In addition to quilting (she learned how in 2002) and sewing, Cade knits, crochets and does other crafts. She is also part of the quilting group at Viroqua Church of Christ.

"Quilts have hearts," Cade said. "When I make something for someone I do it for their personality. "My quilts are not done the same way twice."

Cade calls her quilts "warm hugs."

She is a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 2707, Viroqua VFW and Viola American Legion auxiliaries.


Note from PDF: The Parkinson's Quilt Project recently extended its deadline to Friday, July 23. If you'd like to Quilt for Parkinson's visit our webpage to find out more and submit your panel by the deadline!

Source Date: Jul 01 2010
Source Publication: Vernon County Broadcaster
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