Lockdown, a personal account of the first 100 days for a Parkinson’s sufferer.

It looks like after more than 7 years of using Word Press to write a blog there will be changes which means I am unable to continue in the same way. During those 7 years I have written about 90 blogs, had 13,250 views from 104 different countries. This blog is a summary of life since the arrival of the Corona Virus and not a lot has changed since that, I hope to be able to provide updates in the future, but not as often.
On Monday March 23rd 2020 the day began as normal. A Pilates class followed by coffee and a catch up with the girls. We talked about what was happening with the new virus but none of us expected it to affect us much. How wrong could we be! That evening Boris Johnson addressed the nation which brought home the gravity of the situation. Suddenly our lives would change, maybe for ever.
I had a good routine going each week which I felt gave me confidence to cope with the Parkinson’s that I had been diagnosed with nearly eight years ago. Swimming, choir, Pilates, badminton and the Dance for Parkinson’s classes in London , all helped. I could even manage the weekly shop and the complexities of the new parking machines but now it seemed that everything I enjoyed had been cancelled. I did feel some anger that I was being robbed of time when I was fit enough to try new things and travel the world.
We usually helped with our young grandson, who recently moved back from Australia. Even that was not possible in those early days, how I missed both him and my daughter. It was not easy for her and the millions of other mum’s to
work from home with a lively toddler wanting attention.
In those early times one of the few things you could do was some exercise. That daily walk was a highlight. Amazing how many local paths you could find and try. Spring was upon us and watching new leaves and bluebells appear was magical; the power of nature.
My Pilates teacher began putting a weekly class on YouTube which was another exercise I could then follow. It is a great help but not the same without the gossip and banter after a live session!
Gradually, very gradually, a glimmer of light began to appear and we could meet with a small group of friends outside. The Monday group could meet at a local recreation ground bringing chairs and flasks and sitting in a circle, suitably distanced.
I found that English national ballet we’re offering a virtual monthly class led by Kate and Matt whose classes I had so enjoyed before the virus struck. Hopefully one day they may start up again and it will feel safe to catch a train to London.
The coming of “bubbles” has meant that my husband and I can see and even stay with our daughter and grandson. We have met up, outside, with our son and daughter-in-law, emotional times!
The National Trust has recently opened its gardens which allows us to enjoy the wonders of nature and provides a real boost to morale
And finally, to make you laugh tune into a short video by Paul Mayhew Archer, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-oxfordshire-52127654/coronavirus-paul-mayhew-archer-on-living-with-parkinson-s-and-covid-19 .
He looks to find humour between his condition and the corona virus.
Stay safe
Elspeth McKenzie


Lockdown Lifting.

July 4th will see many changes as lockdown continues to gradually lift. Of huge importance to many of us is the opening up of hairdressers. On the 5th the lovely daughter and I have an appointment, how lucky is that! We will be able to meet friends with heads held high!
The amiable husband has been playing golf and watching football, how I envy him. There is no sign of swimming pools in our area opening and not likely to be for some considerable length of time. I have swum every Sunday for many years and really miss this activity. Apparently it’s cheaper to keep leisure facilities closed! Luckily I can follow Pilates classes on line and English National Ballet is providing a Dance for Parkinson’s class each month.
The local Parkinson’s UK support group is helping in any ways they can but the rules are quite clear so all the activities planned over the summer and weekly regular events are currently cancelled. I usually deliver magazines to local heath centres but this month they have had to be posted.
The wonderful National Trust has opened its gardens this month which has been a wonderful boost to morale.

Nymans, Sussex.

Wakehurst, Sussex.

Sheffield Park

Such beautiful places with rhododendrons prolific and colourful spring flowers everywhere. Visitor numbers are currently restricted so a visit is wonderfully quiet and peaceful, restores the soul.

And finally,
To make you laugh tune into a short video by script writer Paul Mayhew Archer who co-wrote “The Vicar of Dibly”. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago. He looks to find humour between his condition and the corona virus.


A glimmer, Nine weeks into lockdown with Parkinson’s

Nine weeks since our lives changed for ever; mix Parkinson’s and Corona virus and what do you have but a picture of what has been described as an inevitable uncertainty. Parkinson’s is an illness that keeps you on your toes, never sure what will happen next!
May has been a glorious sunny month, we wake, however early that might be, with the birds singing, flowers opening and endless blue skies. The month started with VE Day and celebration in the streets remembering “Victory in Europe” day. Under strict guidelines we managed to share a happy evening with good friends and neighbours. Was that a tiny glimmer of something normal?
There was a step back though when I received a letter saying I was “extremely vulnerable” and should not go out of the house for 12 weeks from early May. I was previously told I was merely “vulnerable”! Fortunately I had a telephone appointment the next day with my consultant who told me the letter was a mistake. Never have I been so relieved.
As the month progressed exercise was allowed for as long as you liked and as often. By the end of May I managed some longer walks with friends and then latterly with the lovely daughter who was accompanied by Handsome Henry who introduced me to Peter Rabbits woods … as ever reminded of the need for social distancing. Another glimmer perhaps?

Peter Rabbits woods

One day I was looking at the website for English National Ballet and found details of a Dance for Parkinson’s virtual class taught by the brilliant team of Kate and Matt whose classes I enjoyed so much before the virus struck. Wonderful, maybe in time to come they may run again and it will be feasible to safely catch a train to London. There are lots of dance ideas, well worth a look.
Let us all help to keep the glimmer glowing!
Keep safe.


Five weeks into lockdown with Parkinson’s

Well, how our lives have changed in these last weeks. Will they ever be the same again?
People with Parkinson’s tend to be an anxious lot and I certainly am concerned about the future. Sleep, always a problem for me is worse than usual which makes me feel permanently tired.
I miss the days when we usually look after Henry. When will all the family be able to have a meal together? The first couple of weeks it was fine to catch up with all those jobs we have been meaning to do but never get round to but now I just want my old life back. As I become more aware of Parkinson’s symptoms I want to make the most of enjoying each day and Corona virus is stopping that.
Enough moaning, we have much to be glad about. The weather has been glorious and I have been out walking every day.The bluebells have been beautiful.

Bluebell wood

Reading in the garden and getting lost in a book is a real treat.

The introduction of Zoom has made it easier to keep in touch with friends, be it a virtual coffee morning, book club or lunch.
Our lovely Pilates teacher puts weekly classes on YouTube which keeps the stiffness away.
Roll on the day, sometime in the future when we get our freedom back, it may be a while for us unlucky enough to be in the vulnerable group,
Keep smiling AND stay safe.


Changing Times – Coronavirus

I have tried to write a blog for this month several times but the situation with regard to the coronavirus keeps changing daily so this will be brief.
Parkinson’s UK have sent out information plus have various help lines open. The local branch has cancelled their AGM and all the exercise classes plus plans for a variety of summer events. I note that those with Parkinson’s are no more likely to catch the virus which is some consolation.
Earlier this month Channel Four broadcast a programme called “How to Beat Ageing”. The last 15 minutes of the programme is about the part that dance can play in helping those with Parkinson’s. It is certainly worth a look; the lesson raises the spirits of the participants and the joy you see on people’s faces says it all. It is available for a couple more weeks on:-
https://www.channel4.com/programmes/how to beat/on demand/70184-001
You can also find it on catch up TV
Stay safe


Local Leisure Centre

Visiting the local leisure centre can provide lots of activities to help with Parkinson’s.
People can be very kind. Some Pilates classes that I attend are in a large studio. I always stand in a space where I can hold onto the wall if there is a lot of balance work. Regular members of the class know this but if anyone new should arrive they are soon moved along and told of my need and why; they really look after me!
Since Henry, our 2 year old grandson arrived from Australia I have become aquainted with a very different part of the centre, the soft play area. There we slide and squeeze through rollers, jump in the ball parks, crawl through tunnels and wobble across rope ladders. He will take my hand and see me safely through! He knows though that I don’t like the dark, twisting slide – only Mummy does that!
On another day I play badminton. In a way it is quite sad because my play is not of the standard that I used to have but I know running around is good for me and I have made new friends there. With a weekly swim as well I feel I certainly get my monies worth  from my membership
Helping the local Parkinson’s UK group is a worthwhile activity which also keeps me in touch with what is going on in my area. There are an increasing number of younger people being diagnosed with the condition and we hope to give them an opportunity to meet and share ideas with others similar. Looking after a young family and coping with work and Parkinson’s can be a daunting prospect.
The lovely daughter and handsome Henry will soon be moving into their own home. It is only a fifteen minute drive away from us and I am sure we will still see them very regularly. We will miss them and our early morning starts!


Swimming round and round

One of the first strange things that happened to me before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s was that my weekly swim was becoming difficult. I seemed to be swimming round and round and not getting anywhere. My weaker left side seemed to turn under me. I had gone from swimming 400 metres to a very laboured 50 metres. Incredibly since taking the dopamine I can swim the 400 metres again, slowly but at least straight. I just have to remember to take my pill an hour or so before getting in the water!
Another strange thing is that recently I have not had the dystopia in my left toes so much and if I do I can usually cure it but putting my trainer on that foot.
There are are unfortunately some areas which are worse, particularly my memory. I often forget words or where I have put things, usually my glasses or keys. What many people are unaware of is that many Parkinson’s symptoms are not visible, they are often the most troublesome. I am lucky too that Pilates four times a week seems to prevent stiffness and pain, I do not take painkillers. I treat myself to a massage every few weeks which is wonderful!
The last three Saturdays has seen me in London to watch ballet. The lovely daughter joined me for “Copelia”  at the Royal Opera House, the dashing son enjoyed the swashbuckling tale of adventures at sea in “Le Corsaire” at the Coliseum and lastly to see “Onegin” which was beautiful. Additionally I joined the aimiable husband at the football and helped Brighton secure a rare victory!
The lovely daughter is all set to move out into her own home in March in the picturesque  Sussex village of Lindfield. How we will miss them but I suspect we will still see them very regularly!


To celebrate our wedding anniversary we recently enjoyed lunch at Gravetye Manor. The new restaurant brings the garden inside and the food was well worth the Michelin Star.
We all need treats in January!


End of a Decade

Today is New Year’s Eve and we  are off for a murder mystery party to celebrate the end of a decade. I am usually in bed by 9pm so I think a daytime sleep is going to be necessary or I am likely to nod off. I have been known to doze momentarily with a gin and tonic in one hand; luckily I didn’t spill any! Tiredness continues to be the worst of my Parkinson’s symptoms followed by a left leg which tends to twist, throwing out my hip and knee rather awkwardly. However, that is only for part of the day.

The local Parkinson’s UK group, with membership of over 200, has been busy with Christmas activities including lunch for 90 at the local golf club. I wore my committee badge and met several people I had not seen before which was excellent. I am today taking the bi-monthly Branch magazines (titled “Shakers and Movers”) to local doctors surgeries. These will hopefully provide information for anyone just diagnosed or looking for help.
Our English National Ballet “Dance for Parkinson’s”  classes have finished for a few weeks. During our last session we were filmed for a TV programme about healthy living on Channel 4. This should be broadcast in February, more details when they emerge. We were working on a new version of Giselle by Akram Khan using sticks to punish the men!


In January the class outing is to see Le Corsaire which should be great. The dashing son is  coming with me, I hope he enjoys the adventures of a pirate and his feisty girlfriend on the high seas.

Last week I went with the amiable husband to watch Brighton play Bournemouth in the Premiership. The Mighty Seagulls played well and won 2-0. It was an exciting game with much more attacking play than when I last visited some years ago. The weather was dry and fairly mild which was a bonus, I certainly notice the cold more!

Brighton – The Mighty Seagulls!

The lovely daughter and our grandson are still staying with us but will be moving a few miles away at the end of February. Watching Henry’s vocabulary increase every day has been wonderful!
This will be the first winter that we have not spent some of the season in Australia. We may have have had relentless rain and grey skies but that is infinitely better than the terrible fires they are experiencing Down Under.


Some good, some not so good, seven years of Parkinson’s

A reflection of the current situation.
The good things are many including;
– Managing most things.
– Driving, albeit only locally.
– Symptoms well controlled by medication, mainly my dopamine substitute.
– Enjoying times with friends, old and new.
– Pilates keeps stiffness at bay.
– Singing in the local choir for Parkinson’s  UK.
– Being part of Dance for Parkinson’s at English National Ballet in London.
– Swimming in a local pool.
– Helping on the local committee for Parkinson’s UK in the local area – over 200 members.
– No pain.
– My problems are mostly on my left side, luckily I am right handed.
– Coping with cooking, follow recipes.
– Being able to get up and down off the floor to play with our grandson and read copious “Thomas the Tank Engine” books!

Thomas and Friends

Not so good but manageable are things like;
– Clumsiness, from dropping glasses to not being able to do up the car seat belt for Handsome Henry.
– Sometimes having a very dry mouth.
– Getting more anxious.
– Not always being able to sleep so need a nap some afternoons.
– Being more forgetful.
– When walking I can get an uneven gait, I call it my “jiggy” leg.
– I am still playing some badminton but my ability is poor now!
– Needing to go to the loo more often.
Support from family and friends is a wonderful help; I am very lucky.
Have a Happy Christmas!


Dance for Parkinson’s new home.

London Canning Town is a very different underground station! Despite having copious notes on how to get out of there many of us have found it very confusing! There are a variety of lifts, not all clearly labelled and I seemed to spend some time going up and down in them! I have now almost mastered the system …. once out you cannot miss English National Ballet at the end of the red bridge leading to City Island.

New English National Ballet building, Canning Town.

The building itself is very modern (see photo) and has magnificent facilities and the dance classes are as brilliant as ever. There are few other occupied premises or people around so coming out at the end of a class, as it is getting dark, is a bit off putting. The monthly class at the Royal Albert Hall will continue so my plan is to do three classes a month, two in Canning Town and one in Kensington and see how it goes.

To celebrate a big birthday in the summer the whole family recently went to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, to see the ballet “Manon” (see photo).

Royal Opera House.

We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the dinner on the mezzanine level watching the champagne bar below; fabulous. Handsome Henry, the 2 year old grandson, was looked after by wonderful neighbours.  I get very tired in the evenings but managed not to fall asleep, it is one aspect of Parkinson’s that is a real pain.
October has been a busy one for culture, ten of us went to Glyndebourne Opera to see to “Rigoletto”, fabulous singing  from the touring company. The group enjoyed a very grand indoor picnic with plenty of champagne and fabulous food.
We have a Charity dinner on Friday at one of our favourite restaurants so I think a nap in the afternoon is justified!
After seven years of Parkinson’s it is important to enjoy every occasion. Some things are becoming more difficult but still manageable, long may that last!
I have now been doing this blog since first being diagnosed and over that time it has been read in 104 countries and had 12,411 “hits” … amazing.