The poker face of Parkinson’s

Loss of dopamine can affect the facial muscles resulting in a lack of expression sometimes known as poker or stone faced. This mask like presentation can cause challenging communications and negatively impact on relationships with others. In 2012 a Parkinson’s sufferer was arrested at the London Olympics for not smiling when watching British success in a road cycle race. You may be told that you have a serious, depressed or mad look on your face even when you are not in a bad mood. Recently I began to be aware of some rather strange muscle feelings around my mouth, not something I like the idea of really. I have found a series of exercises on YouTube which seem to tackle the problem so I shall try and do these a couple of times a week. Singing is a very good activity too so belonging to my local Parkinson’s choir can only be beneficial. Even at my dance class in London we spend 10 minutes working on our facial muscles. Let’s hope all this action can keep me smiling when I should be!

On a positive note I recently saw a neuro physio who was impressed by my lack of rigidity particularly in my upper body; thank goodness for the wonders of Pilates!

February has seen a catching up with friends after my 6 month stay in Australia following the early birth of Handsome Henry. No doubt we will be Down Under again soon but in the meantime the daily FaceTime fix keeps us updated with his progress. He certainly has an engaging smile!

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 Handsome Henry wearing his Brighton & Hove Albion kit.

Going out to lunch is always a treat with friends or family. A recent visit to Amberley Castle in Sussex, complete with a full set of armour on the stairs, was a lovely occasion in a magnificent setting.

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Amberley Castle, Sussex.

At this time of year when the weather is so grey and gloomy it is therapeutic to browse through holiday brochures and imagine the warmth and sunshine. We have planned a river cruise along the Douro River in Portugal with our wonderful Aussie friends who look after us so well, something to think about when there is endless rain here and snow forecast over the next few days.

I have now been doing this monthly blog for 5 years. Over that period I have posted 60 blogs and the site has had over 10,250 views from 97 countries around the world, including such remote places as The Maldives, Rwanda and Nepal. The top six countries in terms of views have been the UK, Brazil, Australia, USA, France and New Zealand. Thank you all for your support.

New statistics for Parkinson’s

Recently published statistics show that the number of people living with Parkinson’s in the UK in 2018 is estimated to be 145,000, that is 1 in every 350 adults and quite a jump from the previously estimate of 127,000.

The aimiable husband has given me a special pill container which has an alarm system for the times I should be taking Madopar, the Dopamine substitute that I take three times a day. I am hoping that taking the medication on time will improve the problems I have with my left leg and foot. I am also using my spiky ball to help, rolling it under my foot. It was quite embarrassing to have to keep stopping and massaging my left foot while pushing Henry, the grandson, in his Pram.

Foot exercise.

Sleeping is a continual problem with waking at 5.30am. I seem to then need a cat nap in the afternoons! Luckily the husband is a sound sleeper and doesn’t hear my nocturnal wandering to make tea, answer emails, listen to Radio 4’s “tweet of the day” and then put headphones on to listen to an episode of Desert Island Discs. The paper boy usually arrives just before 7am so I can catch up on all the news.

I have seen a new consultant but my 7 minute appointment didn’t offer a lot of advice or inspiration!

English National Ballet’s Classes for Parkinson’s sufferers has resumed and it was lovely to catch up with old friends after my 6 months in Australia. This week we went to the Coliseum to watch “La Sylphide” and “Le Jeune Homme et la mort”, very different ballets but both excellent. Back in Oz there was a short film about the class I belong to in Melbourne on local TV. National TV is now showing interest and will be filming the class soon. This week I am back in London to watch Matthew Bourne’s production of “Cinderella”; I want to make the most of every opportunity while I feel very well!

On the news yesterday it was announced that Neil Diamond has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and cancelled the rest of his world tour.

Neil Diamond

I hope he will use his fame to help promote understanding among the public and be an inspiration to us all.