On the evening of Thursday, May 30, an experienced consultant neurologist calmly informed me that I had Parkinson’s disease. It was a devastating dénouement to a medical odyssey that began in September 2017 with a sudden-onset frozen right shoulder, and took in an unexpected diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes — a lifestyle transformation that enabled me to lose two stone — and a shoulder operation in January this year.
Nonetheless, my reaction was not one of shock. I spent May this year in New Zealand — simultaneously having the comedy month of my life, and worrying why a right-sided limp was now getting worse. Behind the façade of the cheerful, late-night comedy-festival drunk was a man deeply scared about facing the truth when back in the UK.
It has been a really, really tough two weeks. Cancelling my run at the Edinburgh Fringe; missing the World Quizzing Championships to have brain scans; performing club sets whilst emotionally bewildered; and, of course, working my way through my loved ones, delivering the bad news. With the diagnosis now confirmed, and a treatment plan in place, I now feel far more prepared for the new challenges ahead. I have an amazing family, no strangers to serious medical illness; I’m blessed to have a fiancé who is there for me; and I have a multitude of friends and colleagues whom I consider to be exceptional human beings. I don’t consider myself unlucky, and whatever the next stage of my life holds for me, many others have it far worse.
In the time since my Parkinson’s started I have been ludicrously busy; and fully intend to keep Chasing, keep writing and performing comedy, keep quizzing, and keep being hopeless at Tasks. Dancing On Ice is, I suspect, out of the question.
A lot of people have asked, “What can I do to help?”. The answer is to treat me exactly the same as before.
Much love, Paul