Wang Shanchuan, a 50-year-old oil painter in Chengdu, continued to paint after being stricken with Parkinson's, thanks to a pacemaker implant. Her story was featured in Chengdu Economic Daily on World Parkinson's Day, observed on 11 April every year.
Wang started experiencing numbness in her right arm repeatedly while painting in 2001. Muscle aches and slight trembling occurred too. She thought it was the frozen shoulder but treatment proved ineffective.
At 40 years of age, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The stiffness symptoms worsened and Wang could hardly perform any simple action as her brain was unable to control her limbs and tongue.
Tang Bolin, Wang's cousin, said it is hard to describe the Parkinson's experience.
Only patients know how it feels, having to rely on others in their daily lives and not being able to move their bodies at will, he added.
Wang's husband became the sole breadwinner, providing for their school-aged daughter. She pressed on, battling feelings of helplessness.
In July 2008, she underwent the pacemaker implant surgery. The operation was a success and it took a month for the wound to heal. She started painting the plum blossoms in her backyard soon after. Wang completed nearly a hundred oil paintings in just two years after surgery.
Life did not become entirely normal as Wang experiences the side effects of medication. She was painting one afternoon when her right leg began to tremble, less than half an hour after medication. Her hands and body moved uncontrollably too. She coiled up and almost fell to the ground. To maintain balance, Wang continued painting with her right hand while keeping her left hand pressed on her right leg. Her daughter quickly used the remote control to reduce the electric stimulation sent to the brain. Wang calmed down eventually.
Tang explained that the condition of uncontrollable movement, dyskinesia, is a side effect of medication.
Pacemaker implants in the brain help to ease the lives of those diagnosed with Parkinson's. However, such treatment involves high surgery and maintenance costs. Wang hopes to hold an art exhibition and auction her paintings, channeling the proceeds to help financially needy Parkinson's patients.