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Victoria Epilepsy & Parkinson's Centre

Parkinson's Blog

Shaken, not stirred.......a Journey with Parkinson’s Disease


It all started five years ago with a sneeze and inexplicably, a small tremor in my right hand. When I told it to stop, it wouldn't, then after 5 minutes it stopped on its own. Nothing to worry about I thought-...except it would keep happening at random. I soon resorted to sitting on my hand until it decided to stop. But each occurrence became longer and more severe. My wife Chris soon caught on to me, so then we worried together.


After 3 months I saw my doctor. The diagnosis was very quick: Parkinson’s. The main course of action was to get me to a neurologist, as GP's in general have limited expertise in treatment options. This would likely take several weeks to get an appointment.

The wait, meanwhile my symptoms became worse: tremors spreading to all four limbs for longer periods(but right side was the worst), still working, but with greater difficulty now. I was scared now, painfully aware that I was on a lifetime journey without a map or compass.


Without warning, I would get spasms in my arms, legs and torso that could last for hours. My wife, Chris had to repeatedly give me extra doses of my medication and then wait for 30 minutes to see if that dose was sufficient. Afterwards I was exhausted for days. I had to stop working, going onto indefinite medical leave.


Twice Chris got me to Emergency by ambulance, but I was just kept, still jerking, in a bed for 5 hours or so. Then I would be told the on-call neurologist had called back: I could take my medication on an altered prescription and be sent home. Not the highlight of my life!


After three or four months my symptoms becoming more entrenched, I contacted Headway (Victoria Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Centre) by chance. A friend recommended them to me, and this was one of the best things that could have happened to me.


I immediately met with my Parkinson's' counsellor, Maureen, whose knowledge and empathy helped me realize that I was no longer alone and that Parkinson's can be managed. Further counselling, together with my wife and other new Parkinson's 'recruits,' helped arm us with coping strategies and steered me towards getting treatment at the Movement Disorders Clinic at UBC. Headway continues to be a great support, providing information and help whenever needed.


At UBC, A very detailed examination immediately confirmed that yes, I had Parkinson’s, and made a change in my medication. Within 2 weeks my symptoms were under control and four months later I was back at work, full-time.

After four years I am still working full-time. My current symptoms include: periodic , minor tremors, a left foot that keeps scuffing, some short-term memory loss, very poor balance, difficulty swallowing, losing some muscle mass and a few more besides. But the good news is I CAN COPE! I practice, speed walking with my dog, weight-training, running and Yoga all to help counteract these challenges.


I know I have an incurable disease, but I can live with that; I take life one day at a time, look for the positives, enjoy each day for what I do have going for me.


This article was also published in the SeaSide Magazine. The article can be viewed here

Posted by Robin Dunn on 31st Mar 2014 1:00pm