Living with Parkinson’s disease
I am 40 years old and I am writing on the 4th anniversary of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). As a consultant geriatrician, I thought that PD was a disease of older adults, so the shock of being diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD) should not be underestimated. The reader may be surprised that I did not realise I had PD given my occupation and symptoms that I will describe in this brief article. My story will be illustrative of the kind of challenges that people with YOPD live through. I hope that the reader will come away with a greater understanding of what it is like living with PD.
Good health is often assumed to be the normal experience of young people and I fell for this delusion. I ran the London Marathon in 2004 and have enjoyed running since then. My early symptoms were, therefore, put down to running injuries. My stiff hip and ankle were put down to back problems. My lack of sense of smell was put down to allergic rhinitis. Looking back, I had signs and symptoms of PD for many years prior to my diagnosis in November 2017. This is a common experience of people diagnosed with YOPD. Most people have to wait many years before they are diagnosed and start receiving effective treatments. I was fortunate that my GP referred me to the neurologist straight away and my diagnosis was made promptly – within 5 months. Being informed I had PD was a shock, even though my symptoms were there for all to see.
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