Saturday, 5 January 2013

What does Parkinson's feel like?

To the non-sufferer, the list of symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease can be just another list, an objective assessment of what somebody is going through. However, a list of symptoms tells only half the story. What is missing is how those symptoms feel. It can be difficult for a non-sufferer to walk in the shoes of a person with Parkinson’s. Even for a Parkinson’s suffer it can be daunting to learn what affect the disease is having (those shoes can pinch for a while!). Symptoms can appear to be getting worse as you learn; in fact, your symptoms are the same, you are just becoming increasingly aware of them.

So, what does Parkinson’s disease feel like? I can best describe my Parkinson’s using an analogy: my mind is swimming in water while my body is swimming in treacle. It feels to me that there is a disconnection between my mind (which is agile and free) and my body (which is slow and restricted). The wire connecting them has become faulty, allowing only intermittent signals through. Imagine you are standing in front of a full-length mirror and you will your arm to move. In your mind’s eye you expect an immediate, smooth response. What you feel and also see in the reflection is different; the arm isn’t cooperating, it moves as if pushed by a snail. You quickly pour sustained concentration into the engine and the snail reluctantly picks up the pace. The movement is finally completed. It feels like you’ve moved your arm ten times; special offer = 1 for the price of 10! Such is the economics, restrictions and feel of Parkinson’s.

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