Twelve Years and Counting

Twelve Years and Counting


Twelve Years and Counting: Reflections on Life with Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease

For Adele Hensley, writing poetry allows her to reflect upon and manage the life challenges inherent in early onset Parkinson’s disease. The process does her body good. Here for the first time, she shares her collection of insights, struggles, and triumphs.

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Joining her in the presentation is her husband of more than twenty-nine years, Frank R. Hensley, who contributes stunning wildlife photography to accompany Adele’s words. The combination is a distinct success.

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Adele Pfrimmer Hensley



adele-hensley-bio-photoWhile Parkinson’s disease is a part of her life, it is not her life. She is a mother, wife, sister, and daughter. Adele Hensley earned her BS in biology from Baylor University in 1987. She graduated in 1991 with an MS in zoology from the University of Florida. It was a few years later, as a graduate student at Duke University, that she realized the traditional academic life was not going to be for her. She saw that public education would best use her gifts and skills. She was very grateful to find herself on the right way, but she had to start on a new path when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of thirty-eight. It hit her voice early and made public speaking difficult. She funneled her efforts into explaining Parkinson’s disease through writing. In addition to Twelve Years and Counting, Adele has authored three books for children about different aspects of Parkinson’s disease. The children’s books are Monica, Mama, and the Ocotillo’s Leaves, about the process of diagnosis, How Marty’s Mom Became a Cyborg, about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy, and Face It: Making Peace With Fear, about the anxiety associated with Parkinson’s. Adele lives in Clinton, Mississippi, with her husband Frank, who is a biology professor, their sixteen-year-old son Clark, and their Labrador retriever, Gryff.

frank-hensley-bio-photo-shootingFrank Hensley is a wanderer of woods and meadows and a denizen of swamps and bogs. Sometimes he accidentally meanders to the front of a biology classroom, where he’s surprised to find people who pay money to listen to him, but he is quickly drawn back out to habitats full of creeping and flying things. He fell in love with nature as a young boy in Nebraska. He fell in love with Adele when she agreed to help collect snails for his genetics project on a rainy night in Texas, even though she was wearing a dress. He loves sharing the beauty of nature with their son, with his students, and with anyone who can see that even scaly, slimy, or spiny critters are absolutely gorgeous.