Over the last couple of years as Anthony’s Parkinson’s got worse I would be amazed at how, when anyone visited, he would suddenly transform from being slumped and silent into a walking, talking marvel. As soon as the visitors left, he would revert back to being unable to walk etc. which annoyed me intensely because it was as if everyone else was getting the ‘same old Anthony’ and Son and I were getting the ‘leftovers’. I also found it frustrating because visitors would inevitably say to me, “Oh he’s so much better than I though he’d be.” In other words I felt I was being perceived as a liar or, at least, an exaggerator.
Assuming it was some sort of adrenaline rush, I once asked one of Anthony’s doctors about this (oh yes and Anthony would always ‘perform’ very well for them too). This doctor told me the famous story of a nursing home fire where the Parkinson’s patients, all wheelchair bound, were trapped on the third floor. As this was being reported by nursing staff to firefighters, someone noticed that all of these patients were standing outside the building, staring up at the fire. They had all run down the stairs and escaped! The doctor said that this phenomenon had been termed ‘paradoxical kinesis’, where the faulty brain suddenly does a kind of U-turn.
I’m no scientist so I don’t know, but, with Anthony, it seems to be triggered by a kind of fear – almost like a performance panic that works in his favour. With people he sees a lot of and is comfortable with it doesn’t happen, but with people he hasn’t seen for awhile, or for any professionals (doctors who visit him in the nursing lodge, for instance), he rises to the occasion with great skill and ease.
When he was living here at home, he would sleep for hours after a bout of paradoxical kinesis and yet our visitors would go home thinking he was fine and dandy. Mmmmm!