A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have attended the Third World Parkinson’s Congress in Montreal, Canada. It was a fantastic event and as a person with Parkinson’s, a fabulous opportunity to meet fellow Parkies as well as professionals from the world of healthcare and science. Over the four days of the congress, there were several lectures and seminars on different aspects of Parkinson’s with many fantastic speakers, but one in particular stood out for me.
At the opening ceremony, Bob Kuhn gave an impassioned speech on living with Parkinson’s and how it hasn’t stopped him from doing the things he loves. He spoke about hope, remaining positive as well as the importance of friends, family and support. During his speech, he said one sentence which really struck a chord with me. It’s one of those sentences that can be applied to many different situations in life, but whatever the situation, I’ve found that it proves true. That sentence is:
“The difference between illness and wellness is I and We”
If I look at my own life having lived with Parkinson’s for over 5 years, this couldn’t be more true. The first three years of my diagnosis were very tough, as I didn’t speak to anyone about it. I just ignored my Parkinson’s, put on a brave face and got on with things, but inside I was struggling to cope. I needed help but didn’t know how to ask for it. Because of my “I” mentality and trying to fight Parkinson’s on my own, I really suffered. Eventually I came to a point, where I realised that I couldn’t continue like this and something had to change. So, I went to see my neurologist and told him what I was going through. The result of that visit was a change in my medication which really helped and started me on my path of wellness. While my new medication helped, I still hadn’t spoken to anyone in depth about what it was like to live with Parkinson’s so emotionally I was still struggling. Six months after that neurologist’s visit, I met and spoke to a person with Parkinson’s – the first person with Parkinson’s I had spoken to since my own diagnosis 3 and a half years previously. That, for me was the turning point in getting to grips with Parkinson’s. To have someone listen and understand what I was going through was not only fantastic, but also a relief at the realisation that I wasn’t alone.
Through that meeting I have gone on to meet a lot more people with Parkinson’s as well as getting involved in the Voices of Hope Choir and other support groups. The positivity and hope I have since experienced has been nothing short of life-changing for me and it has allowed me to once again enjoy life for what it is. Since that involvement, my wellness has grown and continues to grow. I am now in a situation where I am arguably healthier (both physically and emotionally) than I’ve ever been in my life. I still have Parkinson’s, but I don’t consider myself ill. Because of the “We’s” in my life, I am very well indeed!
About the Author:
Andrew Curran Diagnosed with PD in 2008 at the ripe old age of 29, Andrew is from Meath, but lives and works in Dublin. He spent 6 years on and off travelling around the world, the highlight being an 8 month trip in 2010 where he circumnavigated the globe without flying. Leading a more settled, routine life now, Andrew has learned to accept PD and work with it, which allows him to enjoy life one day at a time.