Parkinson’s disease – a degenerative condition affecting mobility and speech – can radically change the lives of those diagnosed and their loved ones. To mark Parkinson’s Awareness day, which takes place today, Jill Chadwick visited a support group event where she learned from those living with the condition – and their carers – about the challenges they face
CHARLES Cooper was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease two years ago after going to see his GP about a slight tremor he was experiencing in his hands.
‘I had a few problems with arthritis in my knees and elbows but I didn’t give a lot of thought to the slight shaking I was experiencing.
‘I saw my GP and he advised me to see the Parkinson’s specialist here and he confirmed the diagnosis.
‘It did come as a shock,’ he said.
Charles is upbeat and says that he is still in the very early stages so he is not experiencing too many problems.
‘There are drugs which alleviate the symptoms, but provide no cure, but research is continuing in a bid to find a cure.’
The condition can also affect speech and Charles says he has to accept that his movements may become more restricted in the future, however, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be different for individual sufferers.
‘Because it affects muscles and movement you can often just be seen as being clumsy. You drop things or break things but the drugs do help control this. For example, I take a slow release drug three times a day but stagger the dosage to fit in with what I have planned for myself. If I aim to be out late then I would change the time I take my medication to allow for this,’ he said.
‘My doctor tells me I could live an active life for another 20 years, but who knows what drugs will become available and what a difference they might make? ‘The thing about Parkinson’s is that you become really irritated by what you are suddenly are not able to do. I retired 18 months ago, having worked in the finance industry as a trust officer. I found writing became very difficult, it’s sometimes the small things that really get to you.’
Read the full interview with Charles Cooper in today's Guernsey Press