Sparks Mayor Optimistic After Surgery
Parkinson's Disease is something Sparks Mayor Geno Martini never asked for, but it's something he deals with on a daily basis.
Parkinson's Disease is something Sparks Mayor Geno Martini never asked for, but it's something he deals with on a daily basis. Martini has has relied on his walker to get from place to place, for about four years. Fatigue and walking are two of his biggest challenges.
"I have to physically think, 'Now you've gotta take a step with your left, right, left,' and once I get started, it's not too bad," Martini said.
Martini's father also had Parkinson's Disease, a condition caused when brain cells that control movement start to die. In January, Martini underwent knee replacement surgery. Less than two weeks ago, he underwent Deep Brain Stimulation, a surgery where a pacemaker-like device was implanted in his chest, sending impulses through wires up his neck and into his brain. The procedure regulates dopamine, which is needed to control movement. The device interferes with electrical signals that cause symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
"The nurse said 'Okay, come on in. We're gonna turn on your brain, today,'" Martini said. "Several of my friends have had it done and it's worked very, very well for them. So, I'm giving it a try to see how it works. Seems to be working fine, so far."
Martini was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease about seven years ago, but he kept it private until the disorder got to the point that he could not hide it anymore. In November of 2015, he went public with his condition.
"It's something you've got to deal with," Martini said. "I deal with it as best I can and go on from there."
While the Sparks Mayor usually uses his walker, he will also use a wheelchair if he has to cover longer distances. He says he gets tired by the early afternoon. Walking can also be challenging unless he gets enough rest. It is not unusual for him to take a 45 minute nap to get a quick recharge.
"In the morning, once I get up and get going and I stretch my muscles out, I seem to be okay," Martini said. "I can walk okay and talk okay and then I'm ready to go."
Martini's term as the leader of Sparks will end in late 2018, and he has no intention of letting Parkinson's Disease prevent him from finishing. He says there is still lots of work to do, including finishing the SouthEast Connector to the redevelopment of downtown Sparks.
"No matter how long I stay in this chair, there will always be something there for me to do, or someone else following behind me that will be there to do so," Martini said.
Martini says he wants to continue working at least 3-4 hours per day, or as long as his health permits. There is no cure for Parkinson's Disease. but it is a long-term disorder. Still, with advocacy and donations, he is hopeful more research can help cure the crippling disease.
"Muhammad Ali had it for 35 years, so obviously, it's a long-term battle," Martini said. "Who knows? Thirty years from now, I could be cured, maybe."