Parkinson's disease

Rachel - Interview 39

Female
Age at interview: 76
Age at diagnosis: 70

Brief outline: Rachel was diagnosed 6 years ago when she was 70. She takes Madopar which allows her to function pretty normally. She is not sure whether things take longer to do is because of her age or because of her Parkinsons disease.

Background: Adult education, married 3 children.

Audio & video

Rachel initially consulted a GP when she noticed what seemed to be a slowing down in her movements. She saw a young GP who had not known her before and after consulting a text book he told her she had Parkinson’s disease. Because of the way he had told he she was unwilling to believe him though she actually suspected that he was right. She then consulted her usual GP who referred her to a neurologist who confirmed the diagnosis. She has taken Madopar since that time, having been advised to stick to the lowest dose she could to control her symptoms which were mainly difficulty in getting her limbs to do what she wanted them to do. Because she had private medical insurance following the removal of a meningioma from her brain in 1993 her visits to the neurologist have been intermittent, in contrast to the usually regular attendances of NHS patients. Her relationship has been exclusively with the neurologist, there has not been a Parkinson’s disease nurse for her to consult. She has had some help from an occupational therapist who arranged for a stair rail and a contraption which slides under her mattress and provides her with a stable prop to pull on when getting out of bed. She can do most she wants to do though she finds many things difficult, and worries when gardening that she might topple over or put a foot on a plant as she tries to save herself from falling. She hasn’t felt it necessary to mention her Parkinson’s to people other than her family and is not sure whether or not they realize that she has it. She hasn’t felt inclined to join the Parkinson’s Society feeling that their literature might make grueling reading and not necessarily be relevant to her situation. She prefers not to think about the possibility of her symptoms becoming more pronounced in the future. Since her Parkinson’s disease has progressed slowly and she is 6 years older than when it was first diagnosed she feels that some of the changes she notices may be due to her age though she believes there are people of her age who are more able for instance to take long walks.

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