Ah I know some with Parkinson's....

Nice name, Parkinson


Mariette RobijnJames had quite a nice surname. But… Parkinson is simply too nice a word. It not only contains an a, i and o; it also ends on a decidedly amiable note. Would he really have wanted his agreeable surname to be used for an incurable, progressive, degenerative, neurological disease? I mean, we’re not talking about a star, planet, orchid or tulip here.

A disease with your name on it

Who came up with the idea of forever associating James’s surname with the disease he once described? Did it happen by accident? According to history, a Frenchman by the name of Charcot was responsible. Who arguably conducted more research into the disease than James himself. Although he only described 6 cases, he was one of the first to upset the Parkinson’s apple cart, so to speak. We could so easily have ended up with Charcot’s disease. Personally, I prefer to stick with Parkinson’s…it has a more sophisticated ring to it.


When I was a newborn baby, my father trumpeted a new name for me the very moment my official name was being registered at the town hall. The civil servant was forced to cross out my first name and I thus I received my new one. Not that they ever called me that. No, instead I got a nickname. A term of endearment.

My husband also gave me a nickname. It’s spelled out in wooden letters above the door of my office, which has since been converted into a gym. There’s no Parkinson’s above the door of my gym, and definitely no parky. I categorically refuse to give such a rotten disease a nice little nickname, never mind the label it would stick on me. Parky. Thanks but no thanks.

On the door of my gym

On the door of my gym (okay, gym is stretching it – mini-gym) is my name, or rather, my nickname. I’m not exercising for Parkinson’s, I’m exercising for myself. Not for James, not for Charcot, not for ParkinsonNet, not for World Parkinson’s Day. I might briefly toy with the idea of placing Michael or Fox above my door every once in a while. But I resist. Because people with Parkinson’s must exercise for themselves. Everyone has their own individual program with their very own set of surprise buttons and press forward or heaven forbid press backward buttons.

In my gymmy

I have to cross a threshold to reach my little gymmy. Sometimes it’s one of despair, sometimes a touch of defiance and, admittedly, sometimes it’s got a touch of laziness – a ‘tomorrow-I’ll-do-2x-as-much-I’m-just-sooooo-tired-right-now’. More often than not though, I cross the threshold into my little gymmy without thinking. Because it’s got my name on it. And, with all the love and support that’s wrapped up in my nickname, I muster the strength to keep going.

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