“It’s one thing joining a gym – it’s another actually going.” She was a wise bird, our old GP: retired now, alas. Of my pregnancy with the InfantPhenomenon, she said: “a summer baby, how lovely! You’ll be able to sit in pub gardens.” Not my first thought but she had four children so knew whereof she spake.
“If you wouldn’t mind filling in these while I prepare the injection – sorry, I know there’s some duplication, but that’s the NHS for you.”
We have the world’s loveliest pharmacist. He’s a great listener, great professional and bedrock for the community. When I walked into his shop for my first lot of Parkinson’s meds and promptly burst into tears, he was kindness personified. Plus he listens to Radio Four and can converse intelligently about The Archers. So I will fill in any amount of forms while he prepares my flu jab.
Life can turn on a sixpence.
Ann from next door and I were chatting yesterday whilst sweeping leaves off the pavement. Ann has an uncle – we’ll call him Pat – in his mid-nineties. He’s been married for forty-seven years to his second wife. Let’s call her Jess. She’s about ten years younger than Uncle Pat, so mid-eighties. There are two sons, both abroad.
We are discussing a comprehension paper on ‘Discoveries’, Class Six and I. One of the Gentleman Scientists discussed (and they are all gentleman, alas) was Alexander Graham Bell. I happen to know everything about the telephone, having read a couple of paragraphs on the subject once in a Bill Bryson book. So I share with the class my favourite fact, namely that, until Alexander’s friend Mr Watson invented the telephone bell some years later, the only way to know if someone was telephoning you was to pick up the receiver and check if they were on the other end.
One of the lassies frowns and raises her hand. “Even if it didn’t ring, you’d know someone was calling because the phone would vibrate,” she suggests. There is general agreement, swiftly followed by mild astonishment when I explained that the original phone neither rung nor vibrated. I didn’t break it to them that it didn’t take photos either: humankind cannot bear very much reality.
Snazzy plain blue Mao-style disposable trouser suit on – check.
Cannula thing in left wrist artery for radioactive tracer and splint applied to keep it firmly in position – check.
Thing in vein of right arm for regular taking of blood throughout and tape applied to keep that firmly in position – check.
All paperwork signed; permission given; off to the PET scanner we go, in search of possible brain inflammation. All in the cause of Parkinson’s research.
I clamber clumsily onto the scanner trolley, which is darned tricky on account of not being able to bend either arm. How the Plarchers manage to do all the farming and stuff with non-bendable arms, goodness knows!
Stop there. Your name is not Mary; you are not calling from Microsoft – go and get a proper job. I’m busy. Goodbye.
Stop there, person that is almost certainly not called Peter. At what stage in your life did you decide to become a crook? Suppose it was your grandmother who had picked up this phone and was even now installing your evil malware? Now, I’m very busy – I need to get to the shops – go and rethink your life choices.
Hello. Now that winter’s here…
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.
“I kept this for you,” says Mrs Jones and hands me a leaflet.
Mrs J it was who greeted news of my diagnosis by telling me that she knew several people with Parkinson’s “and they went on some lovely trips.” A rosy prospect, as you can imagine.
I look at the leaflet. ‘Fit for life,’ it’s called, and is illustrated with a photo of elderly people stretching and smiling. I read the back and laugh.
“What?” says Mrs J.
“‘Produced by Age UK’,” I read. “I’m not sure I’m ready for that.”
“So, what does it mean ‘trending on Twitter’?”
“Right,” I say. “Touch the ‘Search’ icon… now, give it a second to refresh – and, look, there’s a list of the main things that people are tweeting about at the moment: at least, the main hashtags being used.”
We look at the list, ActorLaddie and I. Some of the entries mean nothing to me but in at number five, pop pickers, is a real blast from the past. AL touches it and we follow the link to the following tweet:
“Just saw Postman Pat trending on Twitter and worried that 2016 had claimed another celebrity. #Phew #PostmanPat.”
Phew indeed. Simply the start of a new series; Pat being still alive, well and battling extreme weather conditions in Greendale.
“And next on the line is Jellywoman. Jellywoman, what was your experience of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s?”
In truth, I have no idea what I said to Nicky Campbell, beyond reassuring him that only about 5% of PD is hereditary: apparently, his mother had it. By the time I was actually speaking live on air, I’d already talked about being diagnosed to the nice young man who’d answered the phone in the first place, and to the nice producer who called me back. Now all three spiels blend together under the general theme of ‘Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring,’ which is the message I’d needed to hear on diagnosis.