Palmer keeps writing on

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Steve Palmer of Fairfax continues to work as a journalist despite dealing with Parkinson’s disease and transverse myelitis, a neurological condition in which the spinal cord is inflamed.

FAIRFAX — Nearly two years ago, Steven Palmer was in the Mayflower Country Club parking lot when he fell.

The fall was serious enough to require four stitches on his forehead. Since that October day in 2016, he’s fallen more than two dozen times. It takes him a long time, about twice as long as it used to, to do simple tasks.

“I can’t feel my feet very well. I tripped on the golf cart because my feet weren’t moving well enough,” said Palmer, 63. “As a journalist, I’ve written about other people’s illnesses for 45 years. Now it’s me.”

Finding out just what was wrong with him was a challenge. Palmer has had four MRIs since the initial fall. He has seen many doctors, researched his medical condition online and gotten advice from family and friends.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. Symptoms usually come on slowly. Early on, they include shaking, rigidity, slow movements and difficulty with walking.

Palmer doesn’t shake but he walks slowly.

The cause of Parkinson’s is largely unknown but believed to involve genetic and environmental factors.

There is no Parkinson’s cure. Treatment is aimed at improving symptoms.

In 2015, Parkinson’s affected 6.2 million people. It usually occurs in people over age 60.

Palmer was more recently diagnosed with transverse myelitis (TM), a rare, neurological condition in which the spinal cord is inflamed. The cause of TM is unknown. It is associated with various infections, immune system disorders or nerve fiber damage.

After graduating from Fairfax High School, Palmer attended Willmar Junior College and studied mass communications while working as a sports writer at the West Central Daily Tribune in Willmar. When the sports editor died at the newspaper, Palmer became the sports editor at age 19, which made him the youngest sports editor at a daily newspaper in Minnesota.

Palmer worked at the newspaper for five years. Golf is his favorite sport to play and write about. His sports column, Backfield In Motion, featured his diagrams of what he considered the best 18 golf holes at Willmar area golf courses.

Palmer attended the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, covering Appleton Greco-Roman wrestler Brad Rheingans for the newspaper. Rheingans won the Pan American Games gold medal in 1975 and 1979 and the World Wrestling Championship bronze medal in 1979. He qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team but could not compete due to the United States boycott.

After Willmar, Palmer moved on to the South Florida Sun Times newspaper, covering the Miami Dolphins and Miami University Hurricanes. He later returned to Fairfax, editing and later owning the Fairfax Standard, winning more than 80 Minnesota Newspaper Association awards and a number of national awards over several decades of work.

In addition, Palmer wrote a paperbound book about the history of Fairfax amateur baseball.

After leaving his full-time work at the Fairfax Standard, Palmer continued to write columns, feature and news stories for the newspaper plus feature stories for Senior Perspective, a tabloid.

An avid golfer much of his life, this year would have been his 50th year of playing golf if it were not for his ailments. Palmer still has golfing dreams.

“I’d like to return to playing golf and raise money for Parkinson’s with a 50-state golfing tour,” Palmer said.

Palmer said he would encourage people to create a “bucket list” of places they want to go and things they want to do.

Over the winter months, the Palmers spent time in Arizona and Southern California where their daughter Heather works in the movie business.

During those trips to the southwest, Palmer worked in professional baseball spring training game day operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.

Palmer said his wife Tracie, a Licensed Practical Nurse at New Ulm Medical Center, his family and friends plus his faith in God, have greatly helped him deal with his illness.

He encourages people with ailments they may wonder about to have them checked out by a doctor.

“If you feel something isn’t right, have it checked out,” Palmer said.

Meanwhile, Palmer continues medical treatment, in an effort to slow the progression of his illnesses. They are hoping to purchase a wheelchair/handicap van to improve Palmer’s mobility.

Anyone wishing to contribute to their efforts can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/steven-palmer

fbusch@nujournal.com

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