LINKS BACK TO: PALS Personal Pages Index | PALS Front Page | PD Information | Brainteasers


When anyone asks you what do you remember most about 2001, you might automatically refer to Bin Laden's bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11th. When I think of last year, December 12th sticks out most in my mind, as it was then I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, at the age of 34.


Interestingly enough, it wasn't the Parkinson's disease diagnosis itself that upset me, but the way in which I was told. I was in consultation with a registrar and he was building up to telling me about my new condition in a softly softly approach, when the neurologist walked into the room from an adjoining office, stood in the doorway and said “I presume my registrar has told you that you have Parkinson's disease”. (He hadn't, as he looked away in embarrassment at her manner). I felt numb with disbelief at the manner in which I was told, while she told the registrar what medication I was to use. She then left the room. I was stunned, and the registrar apologised for the the neurologist's manner.

I think the worst part of the diagnosis for me was the fact that I would be on medication for the rest of my life.


Also, when faced with this kind of news I did a lot of research on the internet, and  my sister who works for a pharmaceutical company got me loads of information on the condition from the research laboratories. Information that only people in the business (neurologists et al) would normally receive.


Armed with all this information I reacted very quickly by going to see a kinesiologist, who changed my diet and gave me some exercises. Holistic approaches like yoga, reflexology and walking have also helped me enormously.


The first day I joined PALS I was terrified when I walked in at first, as I didn't know what to expect in the way the condition affected others who were more advanced in the disease than me.
I was stunned at the reception I received, as I was welcomed with open arms and by the end of that PALS meeting I felt as if I always belonged.

The best thing you can do if you have a particular condition is to meet others who have the same condition. As we all know,  people on the outside looking in don't really understand even though they will empathise with you and offer support in the way of lending an ear. However it is much better to meet others with the same condition because you can compare symptoms and talk tech.

I joined PALS (Parkinson's Active Liaison and Support) Support Group an organisation set up for people with young onset  Parkinson's. It was  founded by David Magennis whose bravery has turned adversity into advantage.

At the time the Parkinson's Association of Ireland was undergoing a change in structure and a new national executive was being formed, comprising of different branches (including Kildare, Limerick, Galway, Dublin and PALS Support Group). I volunteered to be a PALS Support Group representative at the meetings, and when, after a Parkinson’s Association EGM paved the way for the new reforms, I was elected Honorary Secretary of the National Executive.


Looking back on the past year, and after  many sessions of yoga, reflexology and walking, I feel having the condition has greatly enhanced my life. I have a better perspective on things and I have become a stronger person for the experience. As a result of Parkinson's disease I have made loads of new pals, if you will pardon the pun, and in the words of Michael J. Fox I could say that I am a Lucky (Wo)Man!

01 November 2002