“Time and again people with Parkinson’s have to fight against the old stereotype that the condition is just a tremor.”
“This basic misunderstanding has sentenced people with Parkinson’s to a life of hurtful comments, being refused service in shops and even being shouted at in the street, all because people have mistaken their speech or movement problems – a common symptom of the condition – for drunkenness.”
Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson’s UK
I heard these quotes during an interview on BBC Radio the other night and then looked it up on their website. The story is accompanied by a video interview which can be read and seen here. They recount a study conducted in the UK showing that PWP suffer discrimination because of symptoms other than tremors including the slow gait and balance issues that sometimes make me look like I’ve had one too many before 10 am. I’ve noticed people looking at me like I might be drunk as we walk into the grocery store and it appears from this study that even if I wore a shirt that said ‘I have Parkinson’s’ they still might think I was inebriated.
Thanks to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, I carry a card that helps to explain the symptoms and covers various drug interactions in case I need emergency care.
The non-tremor symptoms such as slurred speech, facial mask (unable to show expressions), freezing in place, and tipsy gait among others are the little known part of this disease for the general public. I did not realize how complex this disease can be until I starting researching after my diagnosis but I certainly have a greater understanding now. I hope that readers of this blog do too.
I had a follow up visit with the neurologist last week and he decided to double the medication dosage from .125 to .25 so I have started the increase with my midday dose and then will add the morning and night doses over the next week or two. The one thing we have already noticed is my soft voice gets stronger after the .25 dose and the balance problems decrease so I am hopeful that .25 three times a day will result in reduced motor symptoms too. I also received a prescription for physical therapy which we hope will help with the gait issues among others.
I’ve also started a spreadsheet to track symptoms after reading a blogpost by another PWP on the Michael J Fox blog. I think it is an excellent idea and should be very helpful when meeting with the doctor. And speaking of Michael J Fox don’t forget his show premiers September 26th.