Parkinson's disease

Keith - Interview 14

Age at interview: 74
Age at diagnosis: 70

Brief outline: Keith's symptoms have progressed slowly since he was diagnosed in 2004. His symptoms are tremor in his left hand, slowness and fatique. He is currently taking Madopar.

Background: Married, adult children, retired principal lecturer.

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In 2004, Keith started having leg cramps and cold feet. He noticed his voice was becoming weaker and he was getting very tired. His GP tested him for thyroid problems but the results were negative. A year later he noticed pain and stiffness on his left side, a tendency to stumble, tremor in his left hand and difficulty in clenching and unclenching his left hand. His left shoulder was painful when he lay on it. He also noticed that he was having difficulty ordering and articulating his thoughts. Swimming was more difficult than it had been before and he often felt fatigued. At this point Keith’s GP told him that he suspected this was Parkinson’s disease and referred him to a neurologist.


When Parkinson’s disease was confirmed three months later by the neurologist, Keith was very shocked.  Until he was 70, he had been very fit and active, working out in the gym twice a week and yoga once a week.


His symptoms have progressed slowly. His walking has slowed down but he makes an effort to walk into the town and back several times a week. He has had to curtail many of his former activities, gardening, watch-making and writing.


Currently his main symptom is a constant tremor on his left side, which can sometimes be vigorous. As a result, doing anything intricate with his left hand, such as buttons or laces, is impossible. The more distressed he feels, the worse the tremor is.


Keith currently takes Madopar; he experiments with the timing and frequency of when he takes it, but he doesn’t find it makes much difference to his symptoms. He worries about the short and long term side effects of his medication.


Physiotherapy has helped with the pain in his shoulder and occasionally he does a range of exercises which make him feel better. Difficulty using his left leg tends to improve after walking. When his fingers lock he pushes them together and clenches and unclenches his fist to release them.


He is still driving and his licence has been renewed for three years, but he has changed to an automatic car which he finds easier to drive. They still take holidays and find travel to Europe on Eurostar is not a problem.


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