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Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) says he has Parkinson’s disease

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Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) revealed today that he is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, but told reporters in his Capitol Hill office that his prognosis is good, and that he still plans to run for re-election in 2016.

“Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s,” Isakson said on Wednesday morning. “I told my kids about a month ago, I told my senior staff about a month ago.”

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) telling Jamie Dupree (left) and other reporters about his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease

Isakson’s office released a statement from his neurologist, Dr. Thomas M. Holmes, who made the diagnosis in August of 2013.

“I have concluded that Senator Isakson is in Stage 1.5 of 5 accepted stages of Parkinson’s disease,” the doctor said, addressing Isakson’s future directly.

“I believe he is fully capable of running for re-election and serving for another term,” Holmes said.

Isakson’s announcement brought quick reaction from other Senators.

Isakson’s health was on my radar screen before today; I asked one of his top aides in late 2012 about his health, but was told he was suffering from back problems.

While his mind has been sharp as a tack, physically, it was obvious during 2013 and 2014 that something was wrong, but his staff – and the Senator – blamed it on his back; he underwent back surgery in October of last year, and that was said to be the root of the problem.

But in recent months, I had noted to colleagues that the Senator’s gait had clearly slowed down, as he would walk very slowly through the halls of Congress, grabbing on to the railing with his hand to support him as he went up and down stairs.

Isakson says his slow walk is one of the symptoms from the disease, but he was clear that he will not let it stop him from running for re-election.

“I’m looking forward to re-election,” Isakson told us.

“I’m tanned, rested and ready as Richard Nixon used to say.”


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