wings and things

The Parkinson’s disease that nobody seems to know about

Okay, of course the medical professionals know a bit about the type of Parkinson’s disease that Anthony has lived with for nearly a decade, but his official diagnosis is Parkinsonism. Anthony doesn’t have the Michael J Fox variety of Parkinson’s disease; for example, he has no tremors. If he’d had the characteristic tremors, we may have found out earlier.

Anthony’s Parkinsonism is best described as a list of losses in movement. If I look back in time, my first memory of a change in Anthony was his face. It was a big, huge face with a receding hairline and a deeply grooved forehead, twinkling blue eyes, large, but refined nose, sunburned cheeks, large, laughing mouth with good, straight teeth, and a strong jaw.

To be be continued….


Parkinson’s paradoxes

When most people hear the term ‘Parkinson’s Disease’, they tend to think of Michael J Fox and the Parkinson’s that make you shake, move haphazardly or suffer debilitating tremors. Anthony’s type of PD is not like that and is often termed ‘Parkinsonism’. His symptoms have included a dramatic loss of movement. In many ways this is a kinder PD because of the lack of tremors but on the other hand the crippling immobility of brain/body has been a long, slow series of gradual shocks. First his hands couldn’t do things like open a jar of vegemite, steer a car, operate a chainsaw; then his face stopped ‘working’ in the sense that he no longer smiled and he stopped blinking, so that his eyes took on a blank look. I have already written about some of these things in previous posts so I won’t repeat myself.

One of the most noticeable things about Anthony’s PD is his stillness. Before the nursing lodge he would sit for hours on the front verandah in complete stillness. Sometimes he would be so still that the blue wrens would alight on his lap not realizing he was a human. Sometimes he would be so still I would think he’d died. Sometimes he would be so still he would drop his cup of tea.

Well, today I took Gutsy9, the baby peacock, in again to see Ants at the nursing lodge and guess who loved Anthony’s stillness?





The sound of their wings as they launch themselves up into the wattle trees at dusk is like a lullaby. I sit quietly and watch as all of the guinnea fowl and peafowl go to bed. I love the way each bird chooses a branch for the night and there is never any squabbling. King peacock is usually the first and then, one by one, or sometimes in pairs, they all fly up.

It is too late in the day for Husband to come outside with me to hear this lullaby, to watch this never-ending work of art, so usually I race back inside and tell him and he gives me that bemused look he is so good at. It’s very similar to Son’s ‘yeah, whatever, Mum’ look, so I’m never quite sure how to interpret it.

If you have been following this blog you will know that Husband has Parkinson’s disease. He doesn’t have the Michael J Fox type; he doesn’t shake at all. He has the kind of Parkinson’s that immobilizes him, that makes it very difficult for him to walk, to get up from a chair, to get out of bed, to be who he used to be – a man who used to run around the paddocks for the fun of it and round up cattle without a motorbike – my hero.

We have just bought a scooter for Husband and, even though he wasn’t that keen to have a vehicle made for the disabled, he actually really likes it now, so tomorrow at dusk, Husband and I will watch the lullaby together.