Parkinson’s diagnosis came as a real shock

Parkinson's sufferer Patrick Faith from Ballymena who is supporting Parkinson's Awareness Week. (Submitted Picture).
Parkinson's sufferer Patrick Faith from Ballymena who is supporting Parkinson's Awareness Week. (Submitted Picture).

A Ballymena man with Parkinson’s says he would like to see increased awareness and understanding of the condition in the community.

Speaking out in support of Parkinson’s Awareness Week, Patrick Faith, who was diagnosed in 2013, says he would like the general public to have a better understanding of the symptoms which include tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.

Parkinson’s UK Country Director for Northern Ireland, Nicola Moore, says research has shown that many people with Parkinson’s feel anxious and embarrassed about public reactions to their symptoms.

“By giving a smile or being that bit more patient – you can have a real impact on the lives of people in Northern Ireland living with Parkinson’s,” she says.

This year, to make society more Parkinson’s friendly, the charity are encouraging people to pledge to do small acts of kindness that’ll make a big difference to people with Parkinson’s.

Local sufferer, Patrick recalls initially going to his GP after experiencing problems with walking.

It took five months before I got a diagnosis. I was very shocked when I received the news and didn’t want anyone to know,” the 53-year-old said.

“I have learned to live with it now but it has been hard for the whole family as I am not able to do the things I used to.

Patrick, explained how his life completely changed following his diagnosis: “I can no longer take part in sports and can’t drive long distances. It annoys me that I can’t help more around the house and I can’t work. It has put extra pressure on my wife and sons and even small things, like walking the dog, are too much for me. I do, however, try to keep myself as mobile as possible by swimming and going to the gym.”

Patrick would very much like to see an increased awareness of Parkinson’s in the community.

“I would like the general public to be more aware of the condition and to have a better understanding of the symptoms,” he says.

“ I noticed when I was first diagnosed that my health centre didn’t display Parkinson’s information books and I think it would be helpful if all medical facilities carried this information to help people who have been newly diagnosed and also to raise awareness so people have a better understanding of Parkinson’s.

To raise awareness and funds, Parkinson’s UK Ballymena Branch held a collection at Sainsbury’s, Ballymena on Saturday, as part of Parkinson’s Awareness Week.

Did you know that very hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure?

It affects 3,600 people in Northern Ireland alone - which is around one in 500 of the population.

Parkinson’s UK is the UK’s leading charity supporting those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson’s through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

Parkinson’s UK bring people with Parkinson’s, their carers and families together via its network of local groups, website and free confidential helpline.

Specialist nurses, supporters and staff provide information and training on every aspect of Parkinson’s.

Such work, however, is totally dependent on donations.

If you would like more information on Parkinson’s and/or local support meetings, contact Jimmy McClean by telephoning (028)25648398 or email to ja.mcclean@virgin.net.

Alternatively, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/awarenessweek2015