Page 12 - TalkCare_Issue5_Online.qxp_OACP Talking Care Issue 4 July 2017
P. 12

  In Focus:
Parkinson’s Disease
    Talking Care ‘real lives’ series...
  Briony’s story:
An inspirational woman and 20 year survivor ‘living well’ with Parkinson’s Disease
About Briony...
Briony has been married for 42 years to Henry, a retired journalist, they have three grown­up children and two grandchildren. They also have two cats and four tortoises! At the turn of the millennium, their close­knit family received news that was both shocking and life­changing.
She was a busy education professional, college teacher, subject leader of Geography and Environmental science and Deputy Chief Examiner with the International Baccalaureate. Briony was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) at a mere 47 years old!
Thinking, Parkinson’s Disease (PD) was a disease of the elderly (there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, the mean age of PD onset is 60­years­old), not unsurprisingly Briony was in shock. Determined not to let PD rule her life, she continued to teach until 2006 when she retired, but carried on writing geography text books until 2013. In 2016, encouraged by family, friends and others to tell her story, Briony decided to write her book on “Surviving and Thriving with Parkinson’s”.
      Long­term conditions (LTC) are defined on the Department of Health website as “those conditions that cannot, at present, be cured, but can be controlled by medication and other therapies”.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurological ‘long term condition,’ caused by an accumulation of a ‘toxic protein’ that leads to damage to numerous brain regions, most notably those controlled by dopamine producing nerve cells1.
The primary motor symptoms that aid diagnosis are tremor (shaking), slowness of movement and rigidity (stiffness).
The life of a person with a LTC is forever altered – there is no return to ‘normal’
Ref 1: NHS RightCare scenario: The variation between sub-optimal and optimal pathways
Sarah’s story: Parkinson’s January 2018
I was introduced to Briony Cooke by Ann Hart who runs the Carers support group in Goring and Woodcote. I had visited the group last year to introduce them to OACP and to Talking Care magazine.
The group meets once a month at the village hall in Goring and consists mostly of carers supporting their partners living with dementia. All those who attend agree the importance of mutual support and the huge benefits sharing information brings to them.
Briony very kindly agreed to share her story of “surviving and thriving with Parkinson’s” with the readers of Talking Care.
On a bright, but chilly, spring morning, I set out to meet up with her with a view to gaining insight into her journey “living with Parkinson’s Disease”. Notebook and pen in hand with a list of questions at the ready, we began to chat.

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