A Journey of Resilience

A Journey of Resilience

My name is Asalif Tilahun. I am 68 years old. I graduated from Addis Ababa University with a degree in Commerce, specializing in accounting. After working with my farming family from Wareilu to Arisi, I started my career as a sales and purchasing employee in a government office. Due to layoffs, I transitioned to agriculture, which I was passionate about, and worked in the Bishoftu area for nine years. Later, I returned to Addis Ababa and worked as an accountant until I retired. I am married with three children.

Four years ago, in 2018, I began experiencing strange symptoms such as numbness in my right index finger, difficulty writing, and losing direction while playing with friends. After several tests, doctors identified a black dot in my head and suspected Parkinson’s disease. A second opinion confirmed the diagnosis. My father-in-law also had Parkinson’s, so I was somewhat familiar with the disease.

Parkinson’s disease is progressive and has no cure. My severe symptoms include numbness in my legs, tremors in my hands, muscle pain, and sometimes forgetting names and places. I’ve learned from books and the radio that repeated exposure to herbicides, which I encountered during my nine years in agriculture, might be a cause of Parkinson’s. Since I had no understanding at that time, I used various herbicides and chemicals without any protection. Now I wonder if that is the cause of my pain.

Despite these challenges, I have taken proactive steps to manage my condition and advocate for awareness. I joined the Parkinson Patients Support Organization Ethiopia (PPSOE), where I received invaluable training, physiotherapy, and support. The organization also provided reading materials that deepened my understanding of the disease and ways to cope with it. This support has been crucial in helping me manage the emotional and physical aspects of Parkinson’s disease.

Being part of PPSOE connected me with a community of people who understand what I’m going through. This support has empowered me to share my story and raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease. By speaking on the radio and at community events, I hope to educate others about the potential risks of exposure to herbicides and the importance of seeking medical advice early. My goal is to help others avoid the uncertainties I faced and to encourage them to use protective measures when handling chemicals.

Finally, many people hide their symptoms due to lack of awareness and fear. The government should work with organizations like PPSOE to educate people and encourage them to seek treatment. My journey is not just about my struggle; it’s about transforming my experience into a source of support and knowledge for others, ensuring they have the resources and understanding to confront this disease head-on.

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