Parkinson's is like a jigsaw puzzle
John, a first-generation Australian of Croatian descent, hails from Armadale, during his school years, he engaged in sport like football and cricket, persisting until my thirties with a focus on football. John worked just over 27 years at the City of Swan holding various roles, including a decade in environmental health. Following this tenure, John moved to the City of Armadale, assuming the role of Health Manager for five years.
In 1983, a pivotal moment occurred when a fall from a ladder led to a physiotherapy visit, unveiling an unexpected Parkinson's diagnosis. Adapting to this life-altering revelation, I faced challenges in my professional life, transitioning from a part-time to a permanent role due to health concerns.
Married to Maria since 1982 with three children – Anita, Marika, and Karis – John’s life took a different turn with the onset of Parkinson's. Coping with the disease's progression, he found solace in gardening projects and constructing a workbench in his garage. However, Parkinson's impacted various facets of my life, notably my ability to write, type and engage in activities I once enjoyed.
Telling his children about the diagnosis was a challenging moment, but they have since adapted, offering unwavering support. John looks forward to every September when Parkinson’s WA host ‘A Walk in the Park’ every member of John’s family attends including his grandchildren.
Regular interactions with his Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist, Kayleigh, have provided essential guidance and support, aiding in managing medication and navigating the complexities of the NDIS application.
Despite the challenges of Parkinson’s John, continues his love of learning through involvement in courses like Performing Arts and Philosophy.
As Parkinson's advances, John’s voice and confidence have dwindled, affecting his interactions and mobility. He has fractured his back and had recurrent falls, his ability to drive has diminished, leading to increased reliance on his family, friends, and support worker.
John finds reactions to his Parkinson's disclosure varies, from understanding conversations to uncomfortable silences and denial.
Navigating the unpredictable nature of Parkinson's has been a constant learning experience. While there is frustration and stress, the support from family, friends, and Parkinson's community resources has been crucial.
Sharing his journey and raising awareness becomes an essential part of our narrative, dispelling misconceptions and fostering understanding. Parkinson's may lack a rulebook, but we strive to face each day with resilience and a commitment to learning.
You've got Parkinson's disease, and as you go through different various stages of it, you start digging deeper into the symptoms that you get, and they come and go. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, you've got all the pieces and sometimes those pieces don't fit properly, and you get a little bit frustrated and a little bit angry. I have learned everyone’s Parkinson's is so unique, it's so diverse. We're still learning all the time about it.