Report by Alex Evans, Reporter
Sunday, April 15, 2012
LYING on a sunbed on holiday - for most it is a relaxing experience, but for one woman, it was the moment which changed her life forever.
It was when Joyce Glover realised she had Parkinson’s disease. And the 68-year-old has been living with the incurable condition for the 16 years since.
She has shared her experiences with the Mercury to raise awareness of the condition ahead of Parkinson’s Awareness Week, which starts on Monday.
Joyce, of Station Road, St Georges, said: “It was a shock to begin with. I was lying on a sunbed beside my husband in Crete when I felt like there was something wrong with my arm. I couldn’t control it.
“I turned to my husband and said ‘I think I’ve got Parkinson’s’.
“It is a devastating thing to find out and I was scared and apprehensive.”
Over time, Joyce has been able to adapt to life with the disease.
Joyce said: “To begin with, I had a problem controlling my arm and that’s all it was. But now I get a bit jumpy sometimes and can’t keep still.
“I don’t always sleep very well and I can’t go out on my own.
“Sometimes when I try to stand up it feels like the world stops. I tell my brain to move my legs and nothing happens.”
At first, Joyce’s husband of 23 years, Ron, helped her cope with the condition. For more than 12 years after the diagnosis he was her rock, staying by her side and caring for her, until he died three years ago aged 76.
Joyce said: “It was devastating because when we met it was love at first sight.
“After I was diagnosed, he used to do so much for me, he would care for me and do things around the house as well as dig the garden.
“I have never got over losing him and I never will. It does get easier, but I never will completely.
“But Parkinson’s feeds on distress and it made me worse. That’s why it is important to keep your family close.
“Once, when I was feeling very low after Ron’s death, I said ‘I wish I wasn’t here’. My son told me ‘but mum, what would we do without you?’
“People are frightened of Parkinson’s, but you can’t give up, because your family needs you.”
Joyce has two sons, one living in Weston, who comes round to help her clean the house as well as take her into town.
She also has a brother and a sister as well as one a grandchild and two step-grandchildren.
Joyce said: “At first my grandson, who is 14, was a bit scared when he came to see me. But now he understands a bit better, he helps me out too.”
But not everyone has always been so understanding.
Joyce said she sometimes gets strange looks when she is out in town.
She described the time she was on a bus when someone shouted at her for getting in the way.
She said: “When you don’t look well or feel well, sometimes people think you’re drunk.
“One day I was on the bus in Barnstaple and when I stood up, I froze and couldn’t move. A woman behind me shouted ‘Oi, get a move on’.
“I said to her ‘I’ve got Parkinson’s’, and she apologised straightaway.
“I find that people are usually very understanding if you explain.
“But I have had a few funny looks. You have to not let it bother you.”
The key to living with Parkinson’s, Joyce said, is to stay positive and learn to deal with your limits.
She added: “Just stay focused on the good things and learn to ask people for help.
“I used to clean the whole house right through, I used to climb up and clean all the lights, and I used to go into town and go shopping.
“I don’t do that any more because I’m a bit scared of crowds, I feel like I might be knocked over.
“But it’s not the end of the world. You learn to do things your way.
“At the end of the day, no-one knows what’s round the corner, but I’ve found people will always give you help if you need it.
“It is frightening to begin with, but you just have to take it one day at a time.”
Joyce praised services which help sufferers, such as Parkinson’s UK, which meets at Weston General Hospital every month.
To find out more about the group, call 0844 225 3694 or email firstname.lastname@example.org