Barrow Doctor Stands by Couple in Parkinson’s Journey
When Mary Feeley waved goodbye to her husband, Richard Steven Bassett, before leaving for a trip in September 2018, she never imagined how different their lives would become when she returned home.
Steven Bassett has always been a visionary, a creator, and a planner. As a prominent Phoenix architect, he never hesitated to fly to another country and visit a quarry to select the right marble for an upscale architectural project. After retiring, however, Steven started to slow down. “He was tired, did not want to try new things, and was nervous about driving places. He was not the same vibrant, adventurous husband that I remembered,” Mary says. As time passed, Steven began to withdraw into himself more. When Mary returned home from that trip in 2018, Steven hardly wanted to leave the house. Mary and Steven both knew something was wrong, and they were determined to find out what it was.
They went to see their doctor, who noticed that Steven was walking differently, had a tremor in his hand, and was not as animated as usual. He referred them to a neurologist. In December 2018, they received the diagnosis that would change their lives: Parkinson’s disease. “My husband is one of the most steadfast and fearless people you will ever meet,” Mary says. “However, in that moment when he received the diagnosis, for the first time, he expressed being nervous about the future…we both knew we needed to find the right people to educate, advise, and support us through this journey.”
After seeing several doctors, Steven reached out to his old fraternity brother, who recommended the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute. The next thing they knew, Mary and Steven were attending a two-hour Parkinson’s orientation. Then, they met the man who would be their anchor and guiding star on their journey through Parkinson’s, Barrow neurologist Guillermo Moguel- Cobos, MD. Mary and Steven remember the sense of relief they felt after that first meeting. Steven says that they felt immediately comfortable with Dr. Moguel-Cobos, and that he didn’t try to rush them or fit them into a one-size-fits-all plan. Mary adds that Dr. Moguel-Cobos reassured them that this was going to be a personalized treatment program, for both Steven as a patient and for her as his caregiver. “He gave us a plan. He gave us hope,” she says. Dr. Moguel-Cobos’ skill and expertise was especially helpful when Steven was diagnosed with a condition that causes dramatic fluctuations in blood pressure. He responded immediately, working closely with Steven to adjust his medication and treatment plan so all symptoms could be managed. “It is such a relief to have a doctor who can adapt to the shifting tides because Parkinson’s isn’t a stagnant disease, it’s always moving and changing,” Mary remarks.
When COVID-19 hit and all in-person appointments ceased, Dr. Moguel-Cobos continued to provide the same expert and compassionate care via tele-health. He taught Mary and Steven how to adapt their home, how to manage Steven’s medications, and how to understand what the fluctuations in Steven’s blood pressure meant so they could make informed decisions together. “Dr. Moguel-Cobos empowered us with Steven’s treatment during the pandemic,” Mary says. “I don’t know how we would have gotten through this time without him.”
In April 2021, Steven had his first fall. After that, he was not always steady on his feet and needed more assistance with exercise, mobility, and everyday activities. Mary recalls becoming exhausted and overwhelmed. She called Dr. Moguel-Cobos and told him they needed more resources to get them through this phase of the Parkinson’s journey. He immediately secured home healthcare services to assist them and put Steven in the Lonnie and Muhammad Ali Legacy Care Program, to add another layer of compassionate care. “I’ve always said you never truly know how good a doctor is until you are drowning. Dr. Moguel-Cobos has come through for us every time we have needed him in giving us a plan and hope,” Mary says.
The Legacy Program team is composed of Parkinson’s-focused professionals who coordinate comprehensive care with Dr. Moguel-Cobos. They provide Steven and Mary with education, support, and resources, so Steven can continue to live his life to the fullest. “Parkinson’s made Steven’s world smaller and more restrictive. He found it difficult to try anything new or do the things that he used to love,” Mary says. She explains that everything Dr. Moguel-Cobos has advised has treated Steven’s symptoms, which has helped bring him out of his shell and gain his confidence back. Steven adds that he has even started drawing again, something he had not done since he started experiencing Parkinson’s symptoms.
Mary and Steven no longer fear the worst in their journey with Parkinson’s because they know they have a competent, caring, and creative doctor by their side.