Every couple of months I meet up with a group of fellow Parkies (or less colloquially People with Parkinson’s) in a Notting Hill gastropub. It all started when a former BBC colleague asked me to have a chat with a friend of his who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
The friend turned out to be a judge, a very sociable fellow who, despite the shock of his diagnosis, appeared determined to make the best of a bad lot. After we’d met for a drink a couple of times, he suggested he bring along another “Parkie’’ acquaintance, and then another joined a few months later. Then this week, we four elderly men were joined by a former BBC colleague, a woman who has been quite severely afflicted with Parkinson’s for some years.
Over pints of bitter and outrageously expensive fish and chips, we compared medication (the judge swore by some new tablets he took each morning), discussed our various symptoms, and told a few jokes - though as one of our number is a former producer of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue the rest of us were at a disadvantage.
Our new member who has had Deep Brain Stimulation showed us a horrifying video revealing how violent her tremors had been before the operation and we all agreed how much better she seemed - though she warned us that DBS was far from a miracle cure and she feared its effects were wearing off.
We all left at a reasonable hour agreeing to meet again in September. Now what I’ve described may not sound like a great night out, but I emerged from the pub in a more cheerful mood than when I’d arrived. When I got home I found a message in our WhatsApp group from the judge. It contained a link to an article about a group of eminent neurologists who had written a scholarly research paper with the unlikely title “The silver linings of Parkinson’s disease.”
Stimulated by a remark by one patient, they’d conducted a social media poll asking “Parkies” whether there was any positive side to having the condition:
“Most respondents identified one or more positive changes, mainly a new focus in life, better coping skills, new activities, healthier lifestyle, and improved relationships with relatives and friends.”
The judge said the article expressed many of his own thoughts about his situation, and I agreed. But I would add one more positive aspect to my experience of Parkinson’s over the last three and a half years - meeting new friends and joining a wider community of people eager to share what they are going through and what they have learned.
But that’s still a ludicrous price for a plate of fish and chips…
It's true, even though it's a club I didn't ask to join....
You are so nice to read ! My dad started weight lifting at age of 73 , it did cheered him up and he also built nice pectoral muscles ;)