Parkinson's Disease and me

My blog about my experience with Parkinson's Disease

In stitches


I don’t know if it’s the Parkinson’s medicine or not but of late I do have strong urges to make things. Most lately I’ve started making my own clothes. Over the years I have always made things like curtains and cushion covers but this is a new departure. I own two sewing machines – beautiful 1910 hand-cranked Frister & Rossmann which I used in preference to what I always thought of as my “new” Jones electric machine because the latter has no speed control on the foot pedal and is far too fast for me. I add the inverted commas because I realise that the Jones too is actually pretty old and bought in the 1960s. Where has the time gone?!

I am also a sucker for gadgets so, with my new found hobby in mind, I sent off to China for a ten euro eBay bargain – 32 sewing machine snap on feet. They duly arrived but I didn’t know what any of them were as it was all written in Chinese! I spent hours identifying them from the Internet and putting them back into the box they arrived in and then of course duly dropped the box and mixed them all up again! Additionally I discovered they would not fit the Jones without an adapter so as Lidl’s conveniently had a special offer on sewing machines I have become the proud owner of a new Pfaff. It’s like a revelation. I didn’t realise how much sewing machines have advanced over the years.

A friend and I have discovered a local fabric mill which sells by weight every type of fabric you can imagine and is so cheap too. It was fabric heaven and she shook as much as me with excitement! I have also inherited two plastic bins of fabric which belonged to the mother of another neighbour. It comprises mainly skirt and dress lengths. They are all new but exceedingly smelly with age. I have downloaded free patterns from the Internet. They arrive as many pages which I spend ages assembling like a giant jigsaw puzzle and the glue together. I have managed to get glue on the new kitchen floor tiles but I haven’t yet admitted to that one!

I sit in my little work room which is a converted chicken house sewing happily and completely forget the Parkinson’s. Strangely my left hand tremor seems to go away. The Pfaff even has an automatic needle threader …. Bliss! I used to spend ages trying to thread the needles because of ageing eyesight more than any other reason. I’ve been pleased and even complemented on my finished projects.

I looked up Parkinson’s and creativity and found this article which I thought was interesting: http://nautil.us/issue/20/creativity/the-most-dangerous-muse

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For adults only

  IMG_1699My sister knows someone who has Parkinson’s and who spends hours on adult colouring books. His wife says this is wonderful therapy for him. He gets really absorbed and forgets his woes.  It is good for his dexterity and co-ordination. My sister asked me if I would like her to get me one. The idea does not particularly appeal to me but I was surprised that such things even existed so I googled “adult colouring books” and was amazed to discover what a craze it is.

  • Two colouring books by Scottish illustrator, Johanna Basford (Enchanted Forest and SecretGarden) were at one point ranked first and second in Amazon’s best sellers list. They have been translated into 24 languages.
  • Her coloring books are especially popular in Paris, where they recently outsold France’s best-selling cookery books, something that was pretty much unheard of until now.
  • Publishers say the vast majority of adult colourers are female.  French women seem particularly fond of flocking to book shops in search of challenging and highly intricate albums de coloriages.
  • The idea that colouring things in has been psychologically deemed overwhelmingly beneficial to adults, and their use as a relaxation technique dates back as far as Carl G Jüng in the early 20th century.
  • IMG_1706

Whilst the idea of colouring in someone else’s lines does not really interest me I have been whiling away a few hours trying to teach myself to draw and paint and I can vouch for all the therapy claims. So here in the anonymity of this blog are a couple of my first efforts. There some lilies from my garden and no – not the long suffering one but a chimp copied from a photo! If you want to see some better ones from PD artists visit The PD Foundation’s site: http://www.pdf.org/en/creativity_artistsIMG_1704

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Is there an artist in there?

IMG_1353I’ve been watching the Big Painting Challenge on BBC and I feel inspired to have a go myself and see if, like some other sufferers, my Parkinson’s medicine has helped reveal my untapped artistic abilities. I have read that this phenomenon seems to be related to dopamine-enhancing medication.

I’ve always liked arts and crafts. I’ve even won a prize in a Brook Bond tea competition many years ago. It was a book by Adrian Hill who was then doing a painting programme on TV called ‘Sketch Club’ – that shows how long ago it was! Interestingly I have just read that it was Hill who apparently coined the term “art therapy” in 1942. He found that art seemed to help to take a patient’s mind off their illness or injuries and to release their mental distress. He worked to promote art therapy, eventually becoming president of the British Association of Art Therapists, founded in 1964.

I studied art at A level at school but it was not a subject they encouraged. A handful of us started but it was only me who finished the course which really was boring and disappointing. My memories are now very distant but the only paint medium I remember using was water colour. I remember doing endless messy charcoal drawings and lots of calligraphy. It was in the days when teachers were allowed to smoke in schools and the art teacher, a grumpy old woman, would sit in a yellow, smoky haze as she read the paper in front of a two bar electric fire. Both of us would have one eye on the clock!

I thought I’d have a go at acrylic painting now because the TV programme kept saying that it was a much more “forgiving medium” and I certainly need that. I’ve never fancied acrylics before mainly because it makes me think of nylon and polyester clothes. But now I’m the proud owner of a beautiful boxed set of paint, pencils, brushes another artistic delights’ bought on a recent UK trip together with two ‘Teach Yourself’ books from a charity shop. Nowadays there is so much useful advice, tutorials and ideas freely available on the Internet that I feel raring to go!

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