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!

Lindfield.

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!

Giselle

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.

 

Dance for Parkinson’s opens in Canning Town

Finally English National Ballet has moved to Canning Town in London and weekly classes will resume. It all sounds incredibly exciting but my journey will be more complicated and possibly longer. However, I plan to “give it a go” and attend the first class on October 5th. The initial class will be shorter and include a tour of the new building to help us find our way round. We have focused on Akram Khan’s “Giselle” for the first few visits and this weekend the group  travelled to Sadlers Wells to see a performance of the new version of the ballet which is very different from the classical most of us know. It is the second time I have seen it and I felt I understood and appreciated it more, the dancing was amazing.
In today’s Sunday Telegraph there is a thoughtful feature by BBC broadcaster Jane Hill whose father and uncle were both affected by Parkinson’s. There will also be two follow up radio programmes called “The Truth about Parkinson’s”.
Up till a few days ago we were lucky enough to have had a glorious, sunny and dry month. I have so enjoyed our trips to West Wittering and playing on the beach and sands. Wonderful to watch the enjoyment of our 2 year old grandson and join in the paddling! We have spent time too in several National Trust properties in Sussex  particularly Nymans, plenty of open spaces for a toddler!

Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight.

We were also blessed with long fine days on the Isle of Wight which we revisited after an absence of many years.
We climbed Tennyson Down, (see photo),visited Osbourne House and reminisced over holidays when we were young.

 

A suntan just isn’t worth it with Parkinson’s

Many years ago, while a student, I lived on Brighton seafront. If you didn’t have a suntan by the end of April  you weren’t worth knowing!

However, this summer has experienced some days when temperatures have soared to more than 33C and I find myself seeking the comparative coolness of the lounge with a fan switched on continuously. This change has come about for two reasons. Firstly, I realise taking care of your skin is pretty important as you get older and, secondly, I don’t think Parkinson’s tolerates extremes of temperature very well. Apparently in hot conditions the body uses extra energy to stay mobile. However, the Parkinson’s sufferer is lower on energy to begin with so when the body needs more you are likely to suffer from increased symptoms which can include dizziness and fatigue.
To celebrate becoming 70 years young the dashing son kindly agreed to spend the day with me in Sevenoaks in Kent, the town where I lived from the age of two until eighteen. I  had a wonderful day looking at my old homes and reminiscing about my schooldays and growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. We even managed a walk in Knole Park, still stunningly beautiful. It was a day to treasure.

My first home in Sevenoaks ..1951!

Back home the lovely daughter and handsome Henry are well settled. Life is hectic but wonderful. I have a nap some afternoons to try and allow me to stay up till 9 o’clock at least! I love hearing his language develop, new words every day. Perhaps a little less of “no” would be quite nice!

 

A Garden for Parkinson’s

This month has seen the opening of a garden for Parkinson’s in a park in Haywards Heath. There are raised beds with mixed planting to enable anyone in a wheelchair, or using a stick, to access this new facility. Local dignitaries there for this special occasion included two Mayors, with their chains of office, looking very splendid. James Morgan, a world renowned composer and conductor and young onset Parkinson’s sufferer living nearby, cut the ribbon. The Chief Executive of Parkinson’s UK, Steve Ford, came to support the local Branch. He was very easy to talk to and it turned out that his wife and I went to the same school!

James Morgan (left) & Steve Ford open the Parkinson’s garden.

The weather has been hot and sunny for much of July allowing the lovely daughter, Handsome Henry and myself to enjoy days on the sandy beach at West Wittering in Sussex. He was initially unsure about the sea but gradually grew in confidence, running in and out of the sea and building his first sandcastle.

The beach at West Wittering, Sussex.

I was pleased that despite having had Parkinson’s for more than six years, and now being seventy, I could still join in the fun!