As a successful dentist, Stephen Andreason’s hands were perhaps his most reliable tool, and when he picked up oil painting as a hobby in the 1980s, he found them to be just as dependable. Whatever his mind envisioned was channeled through his fingers to the tip of his brush and onto the canvas. Landscapes, seascapes and paintings of exotic orchids were executed with precision and detail.
However, in 2004, at the age of 52, Stephen’s right arm became more difficult to control and his ability to perform dental procedures took longer to accomplish. The right side of his mouth drooped, and in short order, doctors diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease. Medication controlled his symptoms well, but after two years of adapting to Parkinson’s disease and his medication, Stephen decided it was time to sell his practice and retire.
“As an artist, I’m left-handed, but as a dentist, I was ambidextrous,” says Stephen. “I used both hands for everything and when my right arm became weak and uncooperative, I didn’t feel I could do my best work.”
Since retiring, he’s been able to devote more time to his health, as well as, the activities and services offered for free through Orange Coast Medical Center’s Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Program, which is funded by the MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center Foundation.
Paintings by Stephen Andreason
The Steps Forward Exercise Class, for example, has become an essential part of Stephen’s treatment. He attends twice a week and has seen considerable improvement in his flexibility, mobility, balance and posture. He also attends speech therapy twice a week and, when offered, painting classes, designed specifically for patients with Parkinson’s and movement disorders. All of this activity improves his functionality, as well as his outlook.
“It is clear that when I am at Orange Coast Medical Center all of the employees and instructors care about me and my needs. The classes offered at Orange Coast help me overcome the progressive symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.”
“Parkinson’s disease has changed my life. It forced me to give up being a dentist, driving and many other things, including painting,” says Stephen. “However, the support group Art for Parkinson’s at Orange Coast has inspired and encouraged me to paint again. Painting helps me keep a creative mind and gives me purpose.”
To learn more about our Parkinson’s Support programs, call 714.378.5022 or visit memorialcare.org/classes.