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October 24, 2013

Oakdale mayor Pat Paul faces Parkinson’s disease

Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul is dealing with Parkinson's disease, but she said it will not keep her from running for a second term next year.

Mayor Pat Paul is dealing with Parkinson’s disease, but she said it will not keep her from running for a second term next year.

Paul, 70, said she was diagnosed with the nervous-system disorder about six months ago but believes she has had it for much longer. She spent much of last week at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto after a harsh reaction to a Parkinson’s medication, but she said she is back home and feeling better.

The symptoms can include tremors, muscle rigidity and trouble with balance, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. Treatment can help relieve the symptoms, but there is no cure. About 1million people in the United States have the disease.

Paul, a retired teacher, has one of the longest records of elected service in Stanislaus County. She served on the Oakdale City Council from 1980 to 1988, then on the county Board of Supervisors from 1988 to 2004. She was elected mayor in 2010.

Paul said the disease does not affect mental function, and she has missed only one council meeting in recent months.

She said she draws inspiration from Michael J. Fox, who pressed on with his acting career despite a Parkinson’s diagnosis and now plays a character with the disease in a new sitcom.

The mayor said she is using her own sense of humor to deal with the symptoms, which include trouble using her right hand.

“I can gavel with my left,” she said.

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