Parkinson's Disease: Jaroslav's Story

Jaroslav's Personal Story

My PD symptoms began in 2000 when I fell down the steps in my garden. I did not feel any pain. Only after about three months my right shoulder began to hurt. I went to see my surgeon; he X-rayed it and said that it was not broken. But it did not stop hurting for several months and so I went to see another doctor in the regional hospital who was a friend of one of my daughters. It was in the spring 2001.

In the meantime I fell twice or three times unexpectedly and felt certain instability while walking. The doctor in the regional hospital treated my shoulder with an injection, noticed my instability and said that it looked like Parkinson’s syndrome. He sent me for some investigations and prescribed some drugs. I was shocked. Immediately I looked for some information on the web and compared it to my problems. There were some discrepancies between my problems and symptoms I learned from web sites. I had no tremor and my symptoms did not fluctuate. So another daughter of mine arranged for me to have a check up in the University Clinic in Prague. They persuaded me that it was PD and modified my medication.

This disease changed my life entirely. In 2001 I was 74. I did not teach any longer but I worked in the library of the Secondary School of Glass Decorating (founded in 1856). I arranged this large library by means of a computer programme and I was proud to be able to find any book according to any requirement of students. But it was impossible for me to manage some stairs without help of another person. So I had to stop this interesting work.

There was some other interesting work I had to stop. In 1999 I was asked by the mayor of our town to become a town chronicler. I agreed and in a year I wrote the history of our town in the years 1989-1999, describing the great changes in our town after the fall of the communist government. I wrote it on my computer and completed it with photographs of interesting events and objects. I wanted to continue but it was necessary to contact a lot of people and this was not possible without someone else’s help.

The third activity I had to stop involved my home foreign language courses. I could continue that for a longer time than the other activities as I could sit while teaching in an armchair and I did not have to move. I was forced to stop in June 2003.

The loss of these activities was the main cause of my depression. I was a workaholic; I used to work manually as well as mentally a lot and the loss of both depressed me very much. I could not watch TV, I could not read, I went to bed very early in the evening and I could not sleep.

But the time of my depression was not very long. I realised the inevitability of the progress of PD and I decided to do everything to slow it down. I began to go for a walk regularly, I continued with my regular morning body exercises and, especially, I decided to do everything to maintain my cognitive functions as long as possible. This was the stimulation for reading books and for watching TV and especially for not stopping the use of my foreign language knowledge.

In the spring of 2003 I translated the book about PD by Geoffrey and Lucille Leader into Czech (Parkinson’s Disease; The Way Forward available at http://www.amazon.com). I wanted to offer this translation for publishing in our country but it was too “British”, so I published some chapters, with kind permission of the authors, in our Parkinson magazine.

Beside this I decided to pay more attention to my 13-year-old great-grandson. I taught him to play chess and I spent time discussing his school tasks with him.

The development of my PD can be divided into three stages.

  1. Till the end of 2002 I could walk with a carer but with a stick only. I did not need any instrument for movement in the flat. I ate with both hands.
  2. Till the end of 2003 I could walk with a French crutch and in the flat with a walking frame. I stopped eating with both hands.
  3. In 2004 I began to use a wheelchair.

I live for today.

Jaroslav tells of the invaluable support he receives from his wife and daughters

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