We were nearly late for the appointment. Couldn’t find anywhere to park. The only spaces near the hospital were for wheelchair users – don’t you think they could be further away? After all – they’ve got wheels.
So, the professor got me to walk up and down a bit and prodded me and said ‘yes, that’s Parkinson’s.’ My wife said ‘how can you tell just from that?’ The professor said ‘well, there are other signs too. Your handwriting has got very small, for one thing. And your facial muscles seem a bit frozen – you seem to be finding it difficult to smile.’ ‘Well, that could be,’ I said, ‘because you’ve just told me I’ve got Parkinson’s.’
Jim next door has Parkinson’s. They’ve suspected it for a while, Jim and Ann, and given his symptoms – asymmetrical pill-rolling style tremor; writing gone very small – I suspected it too. But they had to wait ages to see a neurologist and finally got confirmation last week.
Ann came round to tell me and asked how long it was since I’d been diagnosed. Just over four years, I told her, and tried to look jolly and bouncing with health. Which, actually, I am. Pretty much.
Walking through the school at lunchtime, when I was greeted by a cheery Year Two. She clocked my right hand, frowned a little and said “do you break lots of plates?”
“No,” I replied.
“Ok,” she said.
Nice to feel she could ask…
I’ve had a cover story ready from the start.
If you’ve read my first blog, you’ll remember that I’ve always intended to blame a bite from a radioactive trifle in a freak Ocado delivery. And that I can now become JellyWoman at will, with the amazing super-power of being able to slide under doors.
I head into After School club to donate some cakes left over from a playground sale of … well, cakes. We’re raising money at Thrush Woods to sponsor Faith, who’s running the London Marathon next week for Parkinson’s UK. A couple of mixed infants skip up to me, arm in arm.
“Have you still got Parkinson’s?” asks one.
“OK.” And they skip off.
I’ve told you before about my Great Uncle Stan. Mind, it was two years ago, and you’ve had a lot on, so let me jog your memory.
Great Uncle Stan kept a fruit and veg barrow on the Northcote Road. During the war, he spent a lot of time at my Nan’s; once managing to sleep right through an air-raid and waking up to find himself covered in glass from the shattered window beside him. He had a glass eye which he used to take out at night and put in a jar besides his bed, terrifying my Ma – a child at the time.
Equally terrifying is my memory of him, sitting in the corner of a mental institution in the 1970s. He shook uncontrollably; had no idea who we were; couldn’t communicate. He has Parkinson’s, the nurses told us.
Last Friday, ActorLaddie and I went to a conference organised by the Cure Parkinson’s Trust Conference. The theme was ‘Curing Parkinson’s’, which sounds a pretty good idea to me. Half a dozen experts came from across the globe to explain what is going on at the moment in the way of research.
It was inspirational.
We had our own little Glee Club at Liverpool Street station yesterday evening. A dozen youngsters from the Music and Dance Academy donned Parkinson’s UK t-shirts and sang their hearts out for two hours, bless them, to raise funds for PUK. They could belt it out, those kids; a great attention-grabber even down at the other end of the concourse where I was rattling a bucket.
The Agricultural Correspondent has been wheeled out again. Just as we get to an exciting bit in the storyline – has Helen Archer finally seen through Rotten Rob? – we are kept on tenterhooks by some bit of farming nonsense. So Tony and David Archer mooch around the cattle market discussing the merits of buying organic suckler cows and we are made to wait for the resolution of the TunaGate affair.
What’s good enough for The Archers is good enough for you lot. So before I tell you what was in the letter from Hammersmith Hospital, I’m going to share some gardening news. If by any chance you didn’t read Wednesday’s blog – number eighty eight – now would be a good time to nip off and do so; otherwise what follows will make no sense. We’ll wait for you by discussing fencing.