Parkinson's Disease and me

My blog about my experience with Parkinson's Disease

Searching for sunshine

After the neurologist gave me the Parkinsons Disease diagnosis he said I could and should just carry on with my life as normal but things might take me a bit longer and I would be a bit more tired. How right he was! It’s nearly three years on from that day now and I am still pretty much doing the same things plus some new ones too. It’s true my back aches (thoracic pain according to the neurologist) and I cannot do gardening for hours as I used to do. However I can still do some gardening and when I look around at my neighbours who are similar ages to me I note that they have aches and pains and can’t keep going as they used to either so I’m not sure how much of the slowdown is due to increasing age.

One of the benefits from getting tired and having to stop is that I now sit in the garden and enjoy it without a frantic urge to dig or weed or whatever. I try to keep positive despite PD and I thought to write about some small compensations when I saw that  Twitchywoman had already and more eloquently beaten me to it in a recent blog.


I find exercise makes me feel so much better and strangely less tired. If I am suffering from any of the irritating PD symptoms which seem to come and go I find going out and doing something makes me feel better. I love to walk or ride my bike (OK it’s electric!) on our quiet country roads in the sunshine. I love to swim and now we have our own pool I swim several times a day. I know we would have not have invested in the pool had I not had PD and now it is a great joy and a magnet to the grandchildren. Apart from this I spend hours sewing, painting or ‘playing’ on the internet. I pretty much do what I want and what’s more I do it guilt-free.

Don’t get me wrong. I can and do frequently feel sorry for myself for having Parkinsons along with the best of them but right now I am feeling how lucky I am. I am sitting in the sunshine in beautiful countryside in the south of France. We have just spent several hours lingering over lunch with very good friends and listening to an excellent musical trio. Last night we went to a wonderful open air concert and picnicked under the stars. It was only the heavily armed police amongst the crowds and the alarm in nearby faces when the fireworks began that indicated we are not too far from Nice and this weeks shocking massacre when 84 people of all ages and ethnicities were randomly murdered. Happy, well and healthy one minute … then the next …


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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:


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!