How I missed Parkinson’s early warning signs

signsJust who, exactly, did get them right and in good time, those early warning signs of the latest earthquake? The scientists? Nope. The locals? No, unfortunately not them either. Did anyone even pick up on the Japanese tsunami in the first place, never mind in time? Right. So, in comparison, missing the early warning signs of Parkinson’s is an easy mistake to make. The early warning signs of Parkinson’s are but a tiny tremor to the system, when compared to the tectonic tremors of an earthquake. We tend to miss both.


I know I missed my Parkinson’s early warning signs. Completely. It’s not as if I ignored them. No way. I simply didn’t have the first clue that anything was wrong. Never was much of a hypochondriac anyway, what with my grandparents living close to a healthy 102

What do you mean, symptoms?

Here are the early signs of Parkinson’s that I totally overlooked. You, dear reader, can probably guess which ones they turned out to be, especially if you are close, perhaps too close to Parkinson’s for comfort.

Early signs of Parkinson’s

A conversation with a client

I glance at my client and instantly know what he’s thinking. The client looks at me, does a double take, seems somewhat puzzled. Something is wrong, fundamentally wrong, with the conversation, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Is it my eyes, my glasses? I know! It’s too dark, no, too light. Naah, I’m just tired, that’s all. That’s why I can see and feel what my client’s thinking, but not the other way round. Hm, oddly troubling. Should really pop to the optician’s and get my eyes checked. What really freaks me out though, is looking in the mirror. I know it’s me, but somehow I just don’t seem to recognise those blue eyes staring back at me.

Feeling the music

I’m practicing the piano; I’ve still got much to learn. But I also notice something strange, particularly with those tricky right hand movements. My hand feels stiff. Likely from all those hours spent slaving behind the laptop. But I notice something else too. With my head. It feels like my brain is skewed. Like something unnatural is happening with my brain, and travelling via my face, all the way down to my right hand. Ah, but playing piano is such a brain intensive activity, that must be what it is!

Sleepy arm

Right, quick, get dressed, grab a sweater. Wait, damn it, my right arm is still asleep, acting like it no longer knows what it’s supposed to do. Why doesn’t my arm slip smoothly into my sleeve, just like normal? Aah, I know, must have slept on it funny.

Scary adventure

I’m at the adventure park and, all of a sudden, I lose my confidence. The year before I swung gracefully and confidently from tree to tree, even with the odd acrobatic trick thrown in. A full 7 metres off the ground, no problem. Yet something’s not quite right. Upon reaching one of those critical, wobbly-plank crossings, I start to tremble. I no longer trust my own body, my own coordination. My own balance, in fact. Of course, I’m quick to reassure myself: you’re 45, what do you expect? You can’t possibly do everything you once did, don’t need to either. But, deep down, you know: This is all wrong. And that thought eats away, makes you feel insecure, a trifle unhappy even.

Parkinson’s Sniffer Dogs

You and I, dear reader, are both well aware of the Parkinsons’ symptoms I didn’t pick up on. And, if you happen to have Parkinson’s disease, then maybe you missed some of yours too? I’m sure I either overlooked or misinterpreted far more, even when they were staring me in the face. Like that almost uncontrollable shake in stressful situations. Or those sleepless nights. The sudden tears. In fact, without realising it, I was already a ‘fully certified Parkinson’s patient’ by the time I walked into the neurology department for the first time in my life. Still expecting the doc to simply tell me to get more exercise, more sleep, and bye bye. Not. Neurologists are Parkinson’s Sniffer Dogs.

Early warning chaos

And once my personal Parkinson’s earthquake actually hit, my own early warning system spiralled out of control. Total chaos. Feeding me a constant stream of early warning signs for almost every conceivable symptom. Worse still, it actually missed a few, only for them to take me horribly by surprise.

But for now, I love the meds that fight the symptoms, I exercise daily, and I stick to a healthy-ish diet. No need for an early warning system to tell me that one day those meds, my Parkinson’s exercise regime and that healthy diet will no longer keep me safe from new or more powerful symptoms.

Early Good News System

I’m currently placing my Parkinson’s early warning system on hold. No point in continually being thrown off balance by all sorts of what-ifs. Instead I’m looking for an early good news system, one that will notify me, and those millions of other people with Parkinson’s, of the early signs of a cure. I’m sure I won’t overlook those.