My own experience of Parkinson’s disease began at an early age. Maybe even at birth. My Grandfather had been on the Somme in 1916 and was caught in a massive shell blast. To cut a long story short, he was invalided out and sent home. He was diagnosed with a myriad of neurological disorders including, in 1925, Parkinson’s. It’s a sobering thought, that he received no dedicated treatment until the start of the NHS in 1948.
My Father, from the age of eight, along with my Grandmother, were on permanent “suicide watch”, and my father was often called out of school to run down to the local station and along the railway lines to take my Granddad home. Now the problems we have had with my own Father and maybe even some of the wider problems in the Family, can, I believe be attributed to the trauma suffered by him during those awful days.
My earliest recollection of the disease, was when we had been on a visit to my Grandparents. I had got used to his shuffling gait and his mask of a face, but I whispered to my mum, “What`s wrong with Granddad , Mum?” and she whispered back, “Parkinsons disease.” One of the memories I have of my Granddad is, he was standing in front of the fire, talking to my Dad. His arm was shaking as usual and the mantel clock was ticking. As I watched, the two things slowly came together and my Granddad’s shake exactly matched the tick of the clock!
My own diagnosis of Parkinson’s was in 2006. It took my GP 15 seconds! Before I had finished describing my symptoms he had walked around me, lifted my elbows like a grasshopper, and said the words, “I`m very sorry you feel so ill, my friend. I’m going to send you to a friend of mine to test you for Parkinson’s.” I had reached my car and started the engine before it clicked what he had said. I sat there for how long? I don’t know. I kept it from my family for months, and even now its hardly mentioned .
Eighteen months later things are stable(ish). My legs are weak, some depression, which is slowly getting worse. My wits are fading a little, I miss a lot of conversations and that’s the big worry. Diabolical sleep patterns complete the picture. You try and remain strong and I am determined never to become a burden on my family. The plusses are of course meeting the amazing people on the web sites and forums. The positivity they display is wondrous to see and sets the mark for me if things get worse. But no matter what I go through, my most endearing memory of Parkinson’s will be my Granddad’s arm shaking to the tick of that clock!