It’s Parkinson’s Awareness week, which is a funny old thing; definitely a worthwhile quest – Parkinson’s does sometimes feel like a forgotten condition, and some people have simplistic ideas about what it is and what it means – yet in the past, whenever I’ve talked about Parkinson’s at gigs or on Facebook or Twitter, it seems like virtually everyone knows someone with it. It’s like Parkinson’s is everywhere and nowhere all at once.
My Dad’s Parkinson’s has worsened – very gradually – since his being diagnosed about fifteen years ago, and of course, the slow pace of that development is something we’ve all seen as a blessing – but the downside is that one can forget that things have changed at all; then suddenly something which has been apparent for years on end can still feel like a shock. I’ll hang out with my Dad – take him for a pub lunch or to see a film – and we’ll just be passing the time, chatting, having fun like we always have, then something will flummox him. Could be something physical, could be something visual, could be something mental – it’s so hard to read – and that’s when I remember that part of the reason I’m there is that he needs constant care; if I or my brother didn’t take him out, my mum would never have any time alone. She has gradually morphed into a full-time carer. Yet my Dad is still his old self, after a fashion.
This elusive yet all-pervasive nature of Parkinson’s means that we have all had to develop a relationship with the condition – not just my Dad. Yet it’s so hard to imagine what life is actually like for him. So in Parkinson’s Awareness week I’m thinking about my Dad, and what his odd, incomprehensible condition means to me. And that’s a very difficult question to answer.
The best I can come up with is that Parkinson’s is a funny old thing, everywhere and nowhere all at once.