Probably the most difficult decision so far was for how long could I work effectively.
A couple of weeks ago I started a period of extended sick leave, while insurance companies prod and poke me to decide if I am really ill at all.
Of course I am - the wonderful experts in the neurology team at Kings College Hospital in Camberwell, London have diagnosed it and are treating it. They are great and fully support my decision to call it a day at work.
About six months ago I decided enough was enough and I had to go and live my life.
Work wasn’t working and I had become increasingly anxious about what to do.
I’ve had Parkinson’s for 2 1/2 years or so (longer according to the DAT scan) and this year it has become more evident in my life and in my work.
My job was the best I’ve ever had, with so many wonderful people who I miss already.
I’ve had a lifetime in advertising, it lives up to its reputation in good ways and bad: fun, creative, fabulous people, late nights, stress, frustration and so much more and I certainly never thought I’d be retiring early, or rather claiming on insurance because of ill health impacting my work.
About eight years ago I was suddenly overwhelmed by fatigue, it manifested itself at first going back to work after Christmas - too much rich food and drink? That’s what I thought at first, it is me being over indulgent. Then it became a permanent fixture every morning, I really struggled to pull myself together. After three or four years of this I started to think differently and wondered what it could be; and then, a few years later I went to the doctor.
The diagnosis wasn’t made until September 2020. Every expert I saw had a different opinion - one even said it was definitely not Parkinson’s. It was only after I knew I had Parkinson’s that I looked back over the last decade and noticed stuff which felt very attributable to the disease.
So what led to my decision? My memory wasn’t as good as before, no one really noticed except me which was and is really irritating. In the memory test at the hospital I got 100%. It was very easy. But I know my memory isn’t up to my standards.
I find myself in places with no idea why I was there. I am great at names, or rather was, I forgot to turn up to so many meetings despite having endless alerts. All things which seemed to turn up out of the blue very recently.
Tremors, twitching, lack of taste and smell (rubbish as I love cooking), painful legs, cramps,
The mornings are hard, my hands are stiff, my legs hurt, my left foot began its endless pirouette and I had tremors. An hour after the meds things get better. But I was consistently late for work as a result.
So many things could be attributable to age, but the coincidences for me are too perfect for that. This year particularly I have noticed a lack of interest in a lot of things, including, sadly, work.
Parkinson’s was taking over. It hurt.
I couldn’t carry on knowing that I could screw up any minute.
Enough was enough, I needed to get back old me, laughing, having fun, cooking up a storm in the kitchen. And now the pandemic is over (is it?) enjoying some travel, long walks, reading, taking great photographs, learning woodwork, pottery, writing this blog and who knows what else.
And relaxing, taking life slowly instead of the manic merry go round. There’s no rush.
Here I am at the beginning of a new chapter.
Now I am off to do some filing and household budgeting, the fun never stops round here.