Hello Friends, welcome to my new website about Parkinson's Disease Awareness, an idea inspired from a single photograph.
It all started when a magical image of a September sunset in 2010 was captured on camera and I fell in love with it. I liked the anonymity of the silhouette against the setting sun and of the portrayal of holding something very precious that would inevitably slip through my fingers. I also liked the suggestion of receiving, giving and sharing. The photograph reflected the representations of my life and when I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, it soon became my source of great inspiration.
My first idea was to have a large printed canvas made of the photo to display on my living room wall and it instantly gave me a feeling of calm.
Not long after that I had the image transferred onto postcards and postage stamps to send to my family and friends as a token of special thanks for their love and support especially after my difficult time healthwise when I first got sick with Parkinsons Disease.
Finally, I wanted to raise awareness about Parkinsons and for Parkinson’s UK (formally known as Parkinson's Disease Society) as a thank you for continuing support but I had no idea how to do this until the photograph.......and that's how my 'give a little sunshine' website came about.
So here it is....my first attempt at something so adventurous with my photographer friend’s encouragement and help to get started! I shall be updating my blog on a regular basis about all and sundry, hopefully to enlighten or to amuse you. I have also displayed my photography and artwork and included some interesting topics just for fun.
On a more serious note, there is a lot of information about Parkinson's Disease and I will be including up to date news and information to help and support other sufferers, their family and friends. As well as raising awareness I am also aiming to raise £1000 for Parkinsons UK PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE
It would be great to know what you think about my website so please introduce yourself, make a comment, ask a question or just say 'Hi!'
I was diagnosed with Parkinson's (August 2009) which was a disease I didn't know much about. I didn't know anyone with PD but I was under the misconception that it was something that only old people developed. My family and friends didn't know much more than I did at the time and as a result of that, I am keen to raise awareness of Parkinsons Disease by sharing my experiences and management of the condition with you.
I was only 52 when I was diagnosed with Parkinson's but estimate that my symptoms started around the age of 50 which initially I put down to sleeping problems and stress. I went about my life as normal and ignored telltale signs that something was wrong. When my symptoms developed further, those around me voiced their concerns but still I carried on, not knowing that I had slowed right down physically and mentally for any other reason than just feeling tired because some days I felt ok. My handwriting became small and illegible and I had difficulty sometimes with coordination when walking, dancing and driving. Sometimes I lost momentum just brushing my teeth or stirring a spoon in a cup, my inability to execute a sequence of movements smoothly or accurately becoming more and more apparent. My symptoms steadily got worse but the crunch came when I developed a tremour in my left hand and I couldn't walk in a straight line. I went to the doctors thinking that I had maybe suffered a stroke. After several weeks of dismissing conditions such as severe stress or insomnia, I was referred to a neurologist.
It didn't take long for the specialist to say without any doubt that I was showing signs of Parkinsonism’s and it was just a matter of a brain scan to confirm there was no other reasons for my problems. After that I had a specialised PD scan to confirm and measure the severity of the damage to my brain cells. My family history and blood tests shed no light on how I developed this disease and as yet, no known cause had been found.
Once diagnosed, everything made sense but the worst thing for me was when I realised that I had developed what is called 'Parkinson's Mask' and had lost my smile. Smiling was something I had always done best but had been unaware that sometimes I looked miserable when I was actually feeling quite happy inside. People would say 'Smile... what's the matter with you?!' My cheery, verbal responses in conversation, delivered with a blank or vacant expression ,must have been very confusing to all and left doubt that I was even listening. Fortunately my meds have given me back my smile, as broad as ever if a little shaky.
Although Parkinson's can be debilitating at times, I am able to manage my condition with medication and a sensible lifestyle. Stress and anxiety makes my condition worse so I try to help myself by avoiding stressful situations whenever I can. I have learned also to ask for emotional support when I need it and also to accept any other help gracefully when it is offered. It means pushing my feelings of vulnerability and lost pride to one side but by doing so I am allowing others to help me to build back up my confidence to learn new things and improve and continue to do the things that I am still good at.
I have had to give up certain things that I loved though, like riding my own Harley Davidson motorcycle but I have not allowed PD to control my entire life. Sometimes it's hard to accept that there are things that I can no longer do but on a positive note, I am aiming to do the things that I can do now rather than later.
I don't know when my condition will worsen but it is certain that it will over time. So for now I'm living for the moment to get the most out of life despite everything!
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and hopefully reading on to learn a little more about this degenerative condition for which there is no cure.
Peace and Light
The Day Of My Diagnoses
Me and Joan when we worked together
Friday 7th August 2009 Just minutes after I had being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease I left the hospital clinic with my friend Joan. I can’t remember what I said if anything but she was surprised that I hadn’t reacted very much. We made for the nearest Café for tea and toast to digest along with the bad news.
Before the appointment to see the neurologist I was hoping not to be fobbed off after months of waiting and I remember thinking that my tremour was absent that morning and would they believe that I was ill at all?
I guess that’s why I had mixed feelings of shock but also of relief that my symptoms were not all in the mind. Neither Joan nor I knew much about Parkinson’s apart from…… it gave you the shakes!
My Mum was first on the phone list so I called and told her the bad news. She responded with 'Oh no...!' After a few seconds of what I thought was shocked silence, she suddenly blurted out that Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox had that condition too and suddenly in her eyes I had celebrity status. I shook my head, as I rang off, with a bemused look on my face. Joan looked sadly on and she asked how badly my dear Mother had taken the news. I cracked out laughing and when I told her, she did too and for a while we were in a helpless fit of giggles.
Fortunately, like my Mother, I have the ability to see the best or the funny side of life no matter what and I hope to continue to do so.
Big thanks Joan for accompanying me on that day….x