A Parkinson's story
By Paula Rath
Carol Okasaki-Maynard was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1999. The former flight attendant could feel the disease gradually taking away her ability to live her daily life and raise her two teenage sons.
Her neurologist recommended deep-brain stimulation surgery, the brain equivalent of a pace maker for the heart.
The surgery is done in two stages. During the first, two pukas were drilled into her brain and electrodes were implanted. The surgery is extremely difficult and complex, but she recovered in record time. On the day that Okasaki-Maynard was to go home from The Queen's Medical Center, she called her husband to pick her up. Instead, 15 minutes later, he died of a massive heart attack.
Okasaki-Maynard was scheduled to have another surgery just three weeks later. She said matter-of-factly: "I had to go on. I had two sons to raise and another surgery to have done."
Now she is the "poster child" for deep-brain stimulation. She is taking one-third less medication than she did before surgery. She is more mobile and still, somehow, manages to make jewelry, a hobby that requires remarkable fine motor skills. She gives talks about the benefits of deep-brain stimulation for Parkinson's patients.