Parkinson's disease

Geraldine - Interview 28

Female
Age at interview: 60
Age at diagnosis: 42

Brief outline: Geraldine was diagnosed in 1990. She was a single parent with three teenage children. She never-the-less succeeded in holding increasingly demanding executive jobs in the voluntary sector and was finally chief executive of the Charities Commission before retiring recently. And she is still working on many projects and committees.

Background: Divorcee with three children. Head of Charities Commission. Retired.Now works between Toronto and Wells as a part-time consultant on social finance and governance.

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Geraldine, was 40 when she was first diagnosed with PD. She had recently divorced and had 3 young children. During the next few years she continued to manage both family and very busy working lives. For 7 years her only medication was Ropinerole, though while on this she experienced very distressing side effects, projectile vomiting and constipation. As her symptoms gradually progressed Sinemet was added to this. She continued to work as CEO of two major charities various charities ending up in charge of the Charity Commission a non-ministerial government department. As the levels of medication increased she found it increasingly difficult to balance the control of its symptoms against the problems of the disease itself. She found out that animal protein seriously inhibited the absorption of levadopa in the gut and now does much better on a low protein high carbohydrate diet. A year ago when she became very unwell due to infection from an impacted infected wisdom tooth which unbalanced her medication.

 

On retiring from the Commission Geraldine moved to Somerset. Her GP in London had been her mainstay and she was concerned about losing him. A GP has a very important holistic role to play. She was lucky to find a young GP who admitted to knowing very little about PD but who has made it his business to become knowledgeable and learn with her.

 

She has recently been put on Talcapone- a drug banned in America because of its known risk of causing serious liver damage. She has to be checked regularly for this but is otherwise amazed to find herself in better shape than at any time for many years. She recognizes a strong connection between her emotional state and her perception of her symptoms, but though avoiding stress and pressure obviously have a beneficial effect she doesn’t regret having continued in her very demanding work for as long as she did. She still continues to work on various committees and projects but is now more able to accept that some of this is best done at home.

 

Geraldine has become engaged to her childhood sweetheart who has recently come back into her life. He lives in Canada but it is highly unlikely she will be granted immigrant status as their constitution allows them to exclude people with long term medical conditions so at present they lead a complicated life between Canada and the UK. She believes that many PD sufferers are not aware of the benefits they should be entitled to. She receives the higher level of disability allowance, a mobility allowance and a pass to which entitles her to London taxis at a flat rate of £5.

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