He is shaking but not shaken - that’s the watchword of a former prisons guard, Kwaku Antwi, who has for the past 13-years battled Parkinson’s disease - a medical condition that forces him to shake uncontrollably.

His condition, although burdensome, is not deterring his spouse but rather deepening their affection for each other.

Uncontrollable tremors, slow movement, and speech changes are few of the symptoms 60-year-old Kwaku Antwi, not his real name, battles every day of his life.

What started as a mild head-shake aggravated into extreme physical shake of his entire body, especially his hands which doctors later diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease.

Wife of Kwame Antwi recounts the 13-year tale of her husband’s shaking experience.

“I prompted him about his head shake, but he doubted me until it extended to his left arm. He became really disturbed when I realized it. So we rush to the Tamale hospital for treatment,” she said.

Parkinson's disease is a brain condition that affects movement, mental health, sleep, and causes pain.

The disease is as a result of the loss of nerve cells that produce a chemical messenger in the brain known as dopamine.

A decrease in dopamine levels brings about irregular brain activity, leading to problems with movement and other symptoms.

Kwaku, until his ailment in 2011, was an officer at the Tamale Prison in Northern Ghana but was later transferred to the Ashanti region for medical care.

“Caring for him is not easy at all. He can decide not to go wherever you want to send him. So, I have to be patient and convince him to go with me before he would agree to go,” the wife said.

Like Kwaku, the symptoms of the disease are usually misdiagnosed which make the disease difficult to manage when later diagnosed.

Lead clinician at Internal Medicine, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Dr. (Med) Divine Amenuke says cases are being recorded in younger generation.

“If it comes in late then the effects as to the reduction in the dopamine is so much. So, it makes it more difficult to treat. Unfortunately these days, the disease tends to be seen in the younger generation. We are seeing people aged 30 years having the disease,” he said.

The cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown, but several factors appear to play a role.

Specific genetic changes and environmental triggers, including organic poison have been identified to increase the disease risk.
The disease is the second most common neurological disorder globally and the fastest growing disease in Africa.

In Ghana, Parkinson’s form 12% of diseases reported at hospitals with the country placing 70th on the global prevalence index.
The cost of medication for the disease is presenting heavy financial burden on patients.

“The drugs are really expensive. Sometimes, I have to request my church leaders to support me,” Kwaku Antwi’s wife said.

Only two medications are covered under the country’s essential medicines list which health officers say aren’t the suitable medication to manage the disease.

Pharmacist at KATH, Dr. Ishak Ahmed Yussif emphasized on the need for more efficacious drugs to be adopted in the country for better treatment.

“If we don’t control the symptoms early, the disease progresses faster, and the implications are that the complication with the disease worsens. If you have the drugs, it reduces the tremors, rigidity, and slowness of movement and generally improves the quality of life of the patient,” he said.

While doctors appeal for an insurance coverage for the disease, the Anidaso Parkinson’s disease Foundation has been supporting people living with the disease.

“We want the patients to appreciate the conditions they are in so that they know themselves. We are also hoping to conduct extensive research against stigmatization so these people are welcomed by all,” she said.

The condition of Kwaku Antwi sometimes leaves his wife in tears as they are unable to enjoy the fun times they used to share.

“We used to go out together, where he’d ask me to dress nicely and join him for an outing. But that is no more,” she said.

But just like the marriage vows they exchanged 40 years ago, the couple will not allow the disease severe the love and respect they have for each other.

“I love my husband regardless. He’s all I have,” the wife said.

Kwaku Antwi may be shaking but his wife’s love for him is not shaken as they find solace in each other.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.