By Rhonda Telford, a founder member of our MoveMe group.
MoveMe is all encompassing. From our fantastic leader/physiotherapist Jo Preston and assistant Tessa, to the wonderful tea and coffee fairies who supply us with much needed sustenance (including yummy cakes) and friendly conversation after an exercise class. Thursday mornings are literally like a beacon shining in my week.
I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease two years ago much to my surprise and initial upset. I had been suffering from numerous “problems”, in addition to several other existing medical conditions, for quite some time but hadn’t a clue what was wrong. I put most of my worsening physical symptoms down to a combination of my osteoarthritis and simply getting older. Eventually after about 18 months of trying to deal with things myself I went to my GP who, like me, thought I just needed to increase my arthritis meds! Again after a few meltdowns with my family and more quite debilitating symptoms, I sought further medical advice and thankfully was eventually referred to a specialist neurologist. I thought I had perhaps had a mini stroke as I couldn’t move or raise my left arm properly to dress or wash my hair. I kept dragging my left leg and stumbling and couldn’t cut up food or prepare meals. I had already lost all my sense of smell and much of my sense of taste and most alarmingly I started to dribble and slur my words. My daughter even thought I sounded drunk when I was on the phone, added to which my writing became miniscule. As you can see, an alarming set of problems to which I no idea of how to connect the dots.
Thankfully the specialist I saw was (and still is) brilliant. She diagnosed me on the spot. One of the tests included me walking in a straight line, an ordinary everyday activity but for me a minefield. I dragged my leg, stumbled and could not swing my own arm.
I’m now two years on and I can honestly say I am a transformed person. I can raise my hands well above my head, wash my hair, walk normally, cut my own food and write well. Plus I no longer slur my words or sound drunk (unless my husband gives me a very occasional glass of wine of course). I couldn’t believe that this amount of positive change was possible and it’s totally down to three things. The care of an excellent specialist, the medications which have helped get me going again and the amazing exercise, physiotherapy and support I’ve received of which MoveMe is now the central part. It’s had such a positive impact both physically and emotionally and I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who attends our classes and all the volunteers who work to make my life better. To everyone who’s involved in setting up, funding and running MoveMe and Parkinsons.Me I want to say a huge thank you to you all. What a humbling, supportive experience and your work is paying huge dividends.