Parkinson's disease

Helen - Interview 40

Age at interview: 39
Age at diagnosis: 33

Brief outline: Helen was 33 when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. 6 years later her symptoms were well controlled and she was on Rotigotine patches she began secretly gambling on line. When she admitted this and was taken off the patches she quickly lost the urge to gamble.

Background: Placement officer, married 2 children.

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When Helen was 33 she noticed that first her right hand and then her arm were not working normally. Her GP told her she might have Parkinson’s disease but this was not confirmed by the neurologist and for three years she underwent many tests for brain tumour and for MS. Her diagnosis was finally confirmed when she was put on Sinemet and her symptoms which by now had extended to include her right leg, improved. She was put on Ropinerole which made her violently sick and caused falls in her blood pressure resulting on one occasion in her losing her sight. She was changed to Rotigotine patches which controlled her symptoms very effectively. Some time after having been started on Rotigotine she began to do excessive amounts of shopping on line. When she felt the number of parcels arriving at the house were beginning to be commented on she transferred to online gambling. Though she had noticed mention of compulsive shopping and gambling as risks in the literature coming with her medications and her consultant had specifically asked her if had experienced any problem of this sort, it was not until one year down the line and by the time that she had lost £10,000 that she finally admitted to herself and then to her husband what had been going on. She got an urgent appointment at the hospital where she discussed her problem with the Parkinson’s nurse, and she was taken off Rotigotine. She says that within a week the urge to go online to gamble had disappeared.


She is now on Sinemet and though her symptoms are slightly less well controlled than when she was on Rotigotine she is free from compulsive behaviours. She notices that when she forgets to take her sinemet her legs become very rigid and turn inwards and that they don’t relax till 15 minutes after she has taken her sinemet.


Her work have been very understanding. She used to be a nursery nurse but was moved to an office job when they agreed that there was a possibility that she might have difficulty handling small children.


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