She was in her early thirties, sitting in her parentsí backyard, when she first noticed that she could barely smell the fresh, budding blossoms emerging from the branches on their orange trees.†
Slowly, her sense of smell seemed to get worse: Jean would remark that the chocolate cookies sheíd freshly baked didnít have that same, strong appetizing scent, or that drives by the local farm were no longer accompanied by the familiar pungent smell of cows.†
Today, sheíll bake bread in her kitchen, and smell pretty much nothing at all. At least she canít smell the catís litter box either, she says with a laugh.†
In 2003, after visiting her doctor due to a tremor in her left hand, Jean was diagnosed with Parkinsonís disease (PD). Since then,†has done her research, and now she wonders if her loss of smell was actually the early stages of PD. In fact, the majority of people with Parkinsonís have a†, and studies have shown that the onset of this symptom often precedes the motor symptoms of the disease.
Jean is a member of the Parkinsonís Progression Markerís Initiative (PPMI) patient committee and she recently learned about the studyís plans to expand to learn more about whether, down the road, a reduced sense of smell could serve as a Parkinsonís†. Having already participated in more than 10 clinical trials herself, Jean is a huge proponent of sharing research opportunities like PPMI with others.
While Jean canít participate in this particular study, she is eager to support by recruiting friends and family members over the age of 60 who†do not†have Parkinsonís to††to see if they might qualify. Jeanís sister-in-law has already agreed to take the survey. Like Jean, she too has noticed that her sense of smell has deteriorated over the years.
Even though she can†only just†smell the Texas Mountain Laurel by her front door, Jean very much appreciates the beauty of her surroundings, which she surveys on frequent bike rides throughout her Arizona neighborhood.†
Jean says she plans to continue to blog about her own experience with PD at Web site†, which she co-founded with friend†in 2007, and she will always be on the lookout for studies she†can†participate in.
ďOthers participated in clinical research so that I could have the medication I do today. I believe itís every personís duty to stand up and volunteer. Even people without the disease can make a big difference.Ē †