It’s 1am and I am sitting at my desk in quiet contemplation. In a little under ten hours, I will be the focus of attention for a number of Junior Doctors who are in training. I have been invited in to my local Doctor’s surgery, which is also a training school for part of the training programme for Junior Doctors. My task is to help these Junior Doctors with their learning about Parkinson’s Disease. I am one of the approximately 6.5 thousand people in the United Kingdom who has been diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. There are not many of us!
In total, there are just under 130,000 people in the UK, diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The ‘young onset’ label refers to the unusual nature, for those of us who have developed and been diagnosed, of the disease manifesting earlier in life than usual. Generally, one would usually find onset and diagnosis happen after the age of fifty and, even then, often much later in life than that. This is why the general perception is that Parkinson’s is a disease of the elderly. In fact, far from it. You can develop the disease at pretty much any age but, indeed, this is something that happens later in life, in most cases.
I have attended the training of Junior Doctors in this way, before. It was last year and I had not long been diagnosed, at the age of forty five years. My diagnosis, however, came much later than the disease, for my symptoms began, in earnest, back when I was in my twenties. After visiting my Doctor with ever increasing symptoms, then began a slow and methodical process of monitoring, testing and the elimination of many potential causes for my symptoms. Finally, in 2017, we reached the conclusive diagnosis.
I had pretty much worked out that the cause of my symptoms was Parkinson’s between 2008-2010. Frustratingly, the process of getting to a conclusive diagnosis was slow and was hampered by a subsequent mis-diagnosis and by other factors. These included a lack of continuity in seeing the same medical professionals at the hospital and one local Doctor refusing to send me for a brain scan, insisting that I must just be suffering from depression!
Thankfully, I knew well enough that I had the symptoms of a neurological disease and I changed Doctor’s surgery immediately, which brings me to where I am today; under the care of an incredibly proactive and superb clinical team at Leiston Surgery, here in Suffolk. Their diligence and clinical expertise has enabled me to get the medical treatment that I so very much needed and I am now in the care of a truly excellent Neurologist.
Making myself available to support Leiston Surgery, in it’s training programme for Junior Doctors, offers me the opportunity to contribute something back; perhaps only a small gesture of the immense gratitude I feel for the help that this surgery has provided to me, but it is at least something.
I only hope that I manage to represent other people, who also have Parkinson’s, well enough that these Junior Doctors will be able to go on in their careers with something useful both to them and to their future patients. I’m told there will be up to ten Junior Doctors attending. I used to work in the NHS and train and guide Doctors on aspects of treatment provision and prescribing regimen, so I’m comfortable doing this and it will be nice to be back in the clinical learning environment.
Have you ever offered your services to your local medical team or to trainee medical professionals, because you have experience of living with an illness or disease? Are you a medical professional who has benefited from meeting with people with particular illnesses, as part of your own training programme? If so, do feel free to comment below about your own experience.
Wish me luck! I will write about how my time with the Junior Doctors goes.
(C) Dean Parsons. 2018.