anyone asks you what do you remember most about 2001, you might automatically
refer to Bin Laden's bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11th. When
I think of last year, December 12th sticks out most in my mind, as it was then
I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, at the age of 34.
enough, it wasn't the Parkinson's disease diagnosis itself that upset me, but
the way in which I was told. I was in consultation with a registrar and he was
building up to telling me about my new condition in a softly softly approach,
when the neurologist walked into the room from an adjoining office, stood in
the doorway and said “I presume my registrar has told you that you have
Parkinson's disease”. (He hadn't, as he looked away in embarrassment at her
manner). I felt numb with disbelief at the manner in which I was told, while she
told the registrar what medication I was to use. She then left the room. I was
stunned, and the registrar apologised for the the neurologist's manner.
think the worst part of the diagnosis for me was the fact that I would be on
medication for the rest of my life.
when faced with this kind of news I did a lot of research on the internet,
and my sister who works for a
pharmaceutical company got me loads of information on the condition from the
research laboratories. Information that only people in the business
(neurologists et al) would normally receive.
with all this information I reacted very quickly by going to see a
kinesiologist, who changed my diet and gave me some exercises. Holistic
approaches like yoga, reflexology and walking have also helped me enormously.
|The first day I joined PALS I
was terrified when I walked in at first, as I didn't know what to expect in the
way the condition affected others who were more advanced in the disease than me.|
|I was stunned at the reception I received, as I was welcomed with open arms and
by the end of that PALS meeting I felt as if I always belonged.|
best thing you can do if you have a particular condition is to meet others who
have the same condition. As we all know,
people on the outside looking in don't really understand even though
they will empathise with you and offer support in the way of lending an ear.
However it is much better to meet others with the same condition because you
can compare symptoms and talk tech.
I joined PALS (Parkinson's Active Liaison
and Support) Support Group an organisation set up for people with young
onset Parkinson's. It was founded by David Magennis whose bravery has
turned adversity into advantage.
the time the Parkinson's Association of Ireland was undergoing a change in
structure and a new national executive was being formed, comprising of
different branches (including Kildare, Limerick, Galway, Dublin and PALS
Support Group). I volunteered to be a PALS Support Group representative at the
meetings, and when, after a Parkinson’s Association EGM paved the way for the
new reforms, I was elected Honorary Secretary of the National Executive.
back on the past year, and after many
sessions of yoga, reflexology and walking, I feel having the condition has
greatly enhanced my life. I have a better perspective on things and I have
become a stronger person for the experience. As a result of Parkinson's disease
I have made loads of new pals, if you will pardon the pun, and in the words of
Michael J. Fox I could say that I am a Lucky (Wo)Man!
01 November 2002