Grant Kozak didn’t know if he would ever drive again — until life-changing surgery.
He lost his driver’s licence because his Parkinson’s disease was progressing rapidly about four years ago.
The 53-year-old has been battling the disease since 1995.
But last October, Kozak underwent a surgery called deep brain stimulation (DBS) in Edmonton that has brought some relief and freedom.
The neurological procedure involves implanting small electrodes connected to a battery to target specific areas of a patient’s brain that control body movement. The electrodes send electrical impulses to specific areas to help alleviate symptoms and/or diminish side-effects caused by Parkinson’s disease medications.
Kozak said while the surgery isn’t for everyone, it has been a life changer for him. He said this procedure just shows where medical advancement is heading.
“It shows there is always hope,” said Kozak.
Since the surgery, Kozak feels less fatigue and does not have “jumpy movements.”
“Before I was walking, I would freeze,” he said. “Somebody would have to tap me to keep me going. So that’s gone.”
Kozak takes about 15 pills a day compared to the 24 to 28 that he used to take before the procedure in 2013.
“And I got my driver’s licence back,” said Kozak, a former brand manager Ikon Office Solutions. “That was one of my goals that I never thought I would hit. If I got it, fantastic. I didn’t think it would ever come.”
Parkinson’s is a degenerative brain disorder characterized by trembling lips and hands and muscular rigidity, later producing body tremours, a shuffling gait and, eventually, even incapacity.
“I feel wonderful,” said Kozak. “Now it’s time to give back.”
Kozak is writing a book about his experiences. He is also looking forward to volunteering at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and working on his golf game. An avid golfer, Kozak did not give up his golf clubs while his disease progressed. After the procedure, he continues to be a “terrible golfer.”
Walkers, runners and pledges are welcome at the annual Parkinson Step ’n’ Stride event the Golden Circle on Sept. 6. There is are three and five km distances, followed by a picnic and barbecue.
Registration, coffee and snacks start at 9 a.m.
There will also be prizes, massages and a silent auction.
Register online at www.parkinsonalberta.ca.
Pre-registration is available on Aug. 27 and 28 only at 5406Db43rd St. Call 403-346-4463 to arrange.