Dell Rapids, SD
Fans reeling from Robin Williams's suicide were shocked again when his wife revealed the comedian was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease. A Dell Rapids woman, who has seen her husband battle Parkinson's for about 14 years, said the disease and depression often go hand-in-hand. Kathie and Jim Dubbelde are approaching 40 years of marriage in November.
"He invited me to go snowmobiling and the rest is history," Kathie said, looking back on how they started dating.
As most couples do, this husband and wife have been through many ups and downs. Perhaps the biggest hill to climb comes from Jim's diagnosis.
"I don't know what I miss the most. Just being able to go out and do things you want. I've always been an outdoor person. It's a little tougher," Jim said.
Though he does not struggle with the constant shaking many associate with Parkinson's, he admits he has trouble controlling his arms and legs. He also deals with depression, which -- according to medical experts -- is seemingly a symptom.
"I come out here and get to the hallway. By that time, you know whether it'll be a good day or a bad day," Jim said.
According to the National Parkinson Foundation, 61-percent Parkinson's patients surveyed say they also suffer from depression. Both conditions are associated with a shortage of dopamine, a brain chemical that helps regulate movement and controls the brain's pleasure center. Kathie said no one prepared her for this side of an already dark disease.
"You just see a little piece of them die each day. It's a depression that just kind of eats away at them constantly and you just kind of watch it every day. I don't want to cry, but it's so hard," Kathie said.
"You just live with what you got," Jim said.
Robin Williams's suicide, and the revelation about his recent diagnosis, hits close to home in the Dubbelde household.
"It's just sad, because, with Robin Williams -- I would just like to tell his kids it was Parkinson's that took him. It wasn't anything he did. It wasn't anything he could've done. It was the disease," Kathie said.
Kathie and Jim said they have a lot of family support, but they never know what tomorrow will bring. They just take it one day at a time.
"It's a struggle," Kathie said.
"I don't know what I would without her," Jim said.
To find out more about Parkinson's Disease, and how to find support, visit the National Parkinson Foundation of South Daktoa’s website: http://www.npfsouthdakota.org/