Thursday afternoon saw me tucked away in the non-contact room, ploughing through assessment results. Depressingly, half the children still remain below the class average, despite Mr Gove’s exhortations. I fear for my salary.
Entering results onto a spreadsheet is a mundane job, so I switched on the wireless; partly to drown out the sound of children in the playground – they do keep turning up at school – but also because I knew that Clare Balding was going to be talking to Tom Isaacs as part of her ‘Ramblings’ series on Radio 4.
I knew of Tom that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his twenties and had subsequently co-founded the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. The CPT is a beacon of hope and I was looking forward to the programme.
Clare … how does she find the time? … she must be triplets… Balding chatted to Tom Isaacs and his wife as they walked through Chorley Woods. They had met before: eleven years ago, when he was walking around the entire British coastline to raise money for research. The programme was interesting and is definitely worth a catch-up, if you missed it. For me, though, it wasn’t an easy listen and, by the end, my assessments were rather on the damp side.
Dear Reader, I am aware that, for a blog that had its inception in a Parkinson’s diagnosis, there has been little Parkie-related content of late. The truth is, as with any chronic condition, I guess, it’s become boring. I can’t honestly say I ever forget about it: there’s always a bit of a shake and a bit of an ache and I’m permanently exhausted, but that is hardly unique among teachers. In all, the disease is progressing thankfully slowly.
Sometimes, at weekends, I play ‘let’s not have Parkinson’s today’, delaying my meds just for the sheer hell of it. I can now understand why young people with diabetes sometimes play havoc with their injections. A kick against the meds can seem like a kick against the disease.
It’s fairly easy to kid myself that I have come to terms with the condition. I talk the talk about how things might progress and planning ahead. Then something happens which makes me realise that, in my heart, I’m still in a state of solid denial. I am playing at being a Parkie.
The something that happened on Thursday was hearing Tom and Clare talk about his current physical state and how much it had declined since they last met eleven years ago: his dyskensia, mobility problems and difficulties with balance. He talked about how he is sometimes laughed at because of his unsteadiness. He stumbled a few times on the walk and had to be helped by his wife.
This will be me, I thought, and came over a bit unnecessary.
A couple of days later, I’m back on an even keel. There were lots of positive things in the interview which were washed away in by my wave of self-pity and tiredness. Above all, was Tom’s inspiring personality and enthusiasm for his work. And there was a bit where he said “anyone who gets Parkinson’s now is in a good place” and went on to talk about the research and that there was “huge hope”. I’m hanging on to that – thanks, Tom.
He and his wife also talked about the importance of living in the moment which is becoming something of a mantra between us and the Hearts; BraveHeart having just finished her most recent course of chemo. Easy to say; hard to hang on to – and the Hearts are pretty darn inspiring in this regard.
Since then, I found a profile of Tom Isaacs here and it’s an interesting read. He has written a book about his walk which is called ‘Shake Well Before Use’. The title alone, I think, speaks volumes about the man. His emphasis on hope is a positive message both for parkies and for those of you who are parkie-challenged.
Hoping that your own buffs remain steady in the week ahead.
The Ramblings program can be caught here.
If you are not already signed up to GiveAsYouLive to help fund Parkinson’s research, please please do. It’s easy, it costs you absolutely nothing and it will bring a cure nearer. The link is here.