Call for more awareness of Parkinson's

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 April 2011

Jane Willis with daughter Holly.

Jane Willis with daughter Holly.

Archant

Call for more awareness of Parkinson's

A MUM-of-two from Clevedon is appealing for GPs and hospitals to improve their knowledge of Parkinson’s to help sufferers and their families.

Jane Willis, aged 50, was diagnosed with the condition in 2008 but was suffering with symptoms at least two years before.

Her GP referred her to Weston General Hospital, but they failed to find anything wrong with her.

She said: “I had a frozen shoulder and my arm was stiff and didn’t move. I also lost movement in my hand.

“They treated my frozen shoulder but told me my left arm was just lazy and that I should take up swimming. It got worse so I went back, but they said there was nothing wrong with it.

“I insisted there was and said I wasn’t going to leave unless they gave me a scan. It was quite a battle.”

Mrs Willis was then referred to the neurologist who gave her a head scan and diagnosed her with Parkinson’s.

But after being told the shocking news Mrs Willis said the neurologist told her to look it up on the internet.

She said: “That was horrific. It was the worst thing she could have told me because I read every symptom.”

People with Parkinson’s do not have enough of a chemical called dopamine which can lead to their movements becoming slower and other symptoms including tremors, tiredness, pain and depression. The condition is progressive and there is currently no cure.

Mrs Willis said: “I’m much slower now and I’m tired all the time so I don’t get as much done. I had to cut down my work hours to three days, but I still struggle with that.

“My family is very understanding. They obviously have to do a lot more around the house now, but they are very helpful.”

But Jane, who has two daughters, Holly, aged 18, and Estella, aged 14, believes more people should be aware of Parkinson’s and its symptoms.

She said: “I’m frustrated that it took so long for me to be diagnosed. If I hadn’t kept insisting there was something wrong I might never have found out.”

NHS North Somerset has defended its service to people with Parkinson’s. A spokesman said: “NHS North Somerset cannot comment on individual cases. However, it runs an expert patient’s programme for patients living with chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes and epilepsy, which is designed to help them improve their quality of life and manage their condition through self management courses.

“In addition the PCT will soon begin a self care programme to provide patients with long term neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, with information and advice to manage their own care and well-being, through healthy eating, exercise and changes to their lifestyle.”

As part of Parkinson’s Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, Parkinson’s UK is calling on people to volunteer for the charity and fund-raise to help find a cure.

Anyone interested in holding an event to support the cause can visit www.parkinsonsuk.org/joinus.

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