“Dad what's wrong with your hand?” my son Brett yelled down the driveway to our house. “Nothing,” I replied, “he just shakes at my age.” That week I went to see the doctor to have my ears syringed.
As I walked in Dr. Dommisse said. “You've got Parkinson's.” I hadn't a clue what she was talking about. She said, “you can't smell anymore, your hand shakes whether you like it or not and you've lost your balance.”
I had remembered that I had fallen on the road just a couple of weeks ago and cars stopped to help me up. Worse still, training for the Argus cycle tour (a 95-kilmeter or 59-mile cycle tour across Cape Town), I had twice fallen on my bicycle at intersections when I was traveling slowly, and once again people helped me up.
I immediately got onto the Internet to learn some more about Parkinson's.
After my Parkinson’s diagnosis, I began taking pills that slowed down the disease and I began altering my lifestyle and home. No more running marathons, no more cycling — I sold my three bicycles — and no more motorcycles. The big car had to go, as well as the caravan. I had the Dragon app fitted to my computer, I now talk to the computer, and it prints it out.
One of the things that have been a great blessing is the way family has pitched in to help whenever they could, coming up with good ideas and buying stuff for me as well. These photographs are of some of the things that we have bought to make life a lot more bearable for those who have Parkinson's.
These are my tips for adjustments I have made that have been helpful:
- I afixed my desk and kitchen table to the wall so I can pull on it and get myself up.
- My bed is now eight inches higher than it was before, making it much easier to get out of bed.
- Special ballpoint pen that clips onto my index finger so that I can still write as my shaking hand then is anchored to the table.
- Socks that are easy to put on.
- Walking stick to get around and a four-wheeled walker with a seat on it for walking longer distances.
- I have a disk (decal) for the car that enables me to park in disabled parking.
- Keyboard for my computer with keys twice the size of a normal one, which makes it much easier to work with my jumping right hand.
- Long magnetic torch (flashlight) probably a meter and 1/2 long to pick things up off the floor and look under things without having to get off the chair.
- Relaxing chair in the lounge with a motor on it, that tips me up onto my feet when I want to get out of the chair.
- We only use mugs for hot drinks because I can carry two mugs in my left hand (the one that doesn't) shake. Cups and saucers are a disaster.
- Dragon app on my computer and I have trained to type out anything... in fact, I'm using it right now.
- I mostly read books on Kindle, as the library books are quite heavy and in any case, the library is under lockdown (COVID-19 protocol in South Africa).
- I'm a Christian and I have friends who phone and pop in. They are available should I need help and family, my wife and children who couldn't do more if they tried. I have asked the elders in the church to pray for me.
- Finally, I read everything I can that is related to Parkinson's.