PARKINSON'S DISEASE - (Diary entry: November 2017)
About 5 years ago I started noticing things were not "quite right" with my health, I was having moments
where my thoughts were cloudy, I was anxious and had moments of depression.
I was also experiencing problems finding the right words in conversation, which although embarrassing, did have its funny side...sort of.
Then over a period of time I also noticed that it was becoming difficult to work as a tremor had developed in my right hand, plus an overwhelming feeling of not being well...a sense of heaviness in my body and slowness of movements etc....I coped by "working around" all of these problems, and trying not stressing too much.
Stress and worry made things much, much worse.
In mid 2017 my symptoms worsened, the tremor in my hand was more persistent and I had moments of 'freezing' (of being unable to walk), I had also developed a stammer when speaking and at times I had difficulty speaking at all, sometimes all I could manage was a raspy whisper. I asked friends and work colleagues not to call me on the phone (as I was too self-conscious), preferring the option of email, where I could take my time reading messages over and over, as my memory and ability of comprehension was also suffering.
...I felt like I was falling apart, even now on a 'bad day' that feeling overwhelms me, and I have to fight hard to keep a positive state of mind.
Work in the studio had all but stopped as I could not even hold a paint brush, or a pen and my mental state was not up to making sense of the creative process...it was (and sometimes still is) a dark time.
A visit to my General Practitioner resulted in a diagnosis of suspected Parkinson's Disease, a later examination by Neurologist along with associated brain scans, blood tests etc. gave confirmation. At the time of the pre diagnosis by my G.P. I was put on Parkinson's medication(s), and although I got some improvements, unfortunately over time the symptoms returned sometimes worse than before...
So the dance began!
After many months of trying different dosages of medications to find the right mix to balance the brain chemistry, I am now at the point where I am having more good days than bad, somedays, I am even able to get into the studio and try to do some work, although I have had to develop some new techniques to achieve what used to come so easily and naturally to me. Holding brushes is still difficult and my confidence has suffered.
The good news is that I feel I am improving, and I hope that over time I will get some 'normality' back to my creative and personal life.
I know that many people are much worse than I am, dealing with severe debilitation, I have so much to be thankful for, in particular my loving, supportive, nurturing and wonderful partner Lorraine, and my wonderful and caring doctors.
My first painting since my Parkinson's diagnosis.
"Nocturne-Irises 1" - Oil on Paper- in progress
In the studio today: My first real effort at painting since my Parkinson's diagnosis. After finding a technique that was comfortable and that I was happy with...I am pleased with progress.
November / December 2018
Since my previous update, things have changed. The medications I have been on became less and less effective, and my dosage was being increased at regular intervals, side effects too, became increased and they were not much fun to deal with. So I have been dealing with those things, and trying alternatives
to my medications. All in all I am happy not to be suffering the terrible side effects, and I really have not noticed any deterioration in my overall condition.
For those of you out there who suffer from P.D. or have loved ones or friends suffering, I cannot stress enough how much, exercise (however you choose to get it) and positive thinking help coping with day to day living....of course you will still probably have bad days but it is definitely worth the effort.
For me, even little things like, when I am having problems walking or buttoning up a shirt...if i imagine a musical rhythm in my head, I can use the 'beat' to help me achieve more synchronised movements...Lorraine and I have taken to dancing in the lounge room most days for short periods, and we go outside and she throws a tennis ball to me so i can try to catch and throw, this helps with co-ordination too...and whenever possible we walk to the local shops...every little bit helps. I have also taken to meditation to help gather my thoughts and clarify my mind, and in the morning before I get out of bed I do my own invention of "bed yoga" (don't laugh!) where I go through a sequence of movements that I feel help my muscle movement memory...i think it works.
I do have deep frustration of not being able to work the way I want to, on a regular basis, in that regard, Parkinson's Disease is making it very difficult.
For example, if the tremors in my hands are under control, then I usually have a strange brain fog
that stifles all of my creative thought, in fact it makes even the most basic thought process difficult.
There are rare days that I don't have the body or hand tremors and also my thought processing
is clear enough to get some work in the studio done, as I say, these days of harmony between the thought and the act are rare.
But...I have decided that I will endeavour to do some studio work, even if I do have the tremors.
I will try to cope with the tremors and try to create something, every day, for my own sanity.
It is almost impossible to work creatively when my thought process is suffering.
When this happens I can stand with a paintbrush in my hand, and have no idea what to do next, it seems the knowledge of how to create, and even the memory of the practical act of painting has left me.
At least even with the tremors and a clear head. I can achieve something.
At least I can get something out of myself.
I have also been able to get my head around what I am able to create while not being exactly what
I "see" in my mind, is still a part of me, and I cannot disregard it.
It is merely a new way of thinking and working.
I have learnt to embrace these works.
The very act of creation helps me, and keeps me from sinking into depression, this happens when I don't allow myself to, or cannot work....then the depression escalates, and makes everything worse.
In a perfect world my brain and body would be in synchronicity...in a perfect world I would not have Parkinson's Disease.
So I must create what and when I can, for my own peace of mind and sanity.
To this end I have been working on some small manageable sized
landscape works painted en plein air.
I hope you enjoy them.