The power of pills

I’m grateful that for most of my life I’ve been relatively healthy. Because of this I rarely took medication so it wasn’t something I had given much thought to… until I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

The day I was diagnosed my consultant prescribed me medication straight away. I remember being really excited about the fact that I was able to wave again for the first time in months, just days after starting my medication.

I also remember reading the pamphlet inside the box and feeling completely overwhelmed by all the possible side effects and the fact that I’d be having to take some sort of medication every day for the rest of my life.

In the weeks and months that followed I learned that it can take a while to get the right dosage and combination of medication for Parkinson’s. And that this can be a very frustrating process. Not forgetting that Parkinson’s is a progressive disease and so it’s sometimes necessary to increase dosages and add more medications to the mix. Oh and of course all medications have possible side effects.

Just a few of the common side effects of my current medications include nausea, joint pain, decreased appetite, weight gain, dizziness, abnormal sleep, sleep disturbances, constipation, depression, stomach pain… the list goes on. It also includes other side effects, which while not very common, are pretty scary… aggressive behaviour, hallucinations, stroke, and heart attack.

I am fortunate so far, not to have experienced of the latter side effects. I believe I do have some of the more common side effects from my medications… However some of the side effects could also be symptoms of Parkinson’s!

For me it’s about quality of life, and the benefits I get from taking my meds outweigh the side effects. I’m grateful that for the last year or so I haven’t needed to alter my medications and, while I take three medications for Parkinson’s, I am on relatively low dosages. These are working for me at the moment.

When I say ‘working’ I mean I am satisfied with the quality of life they allow me to have. However, I still struggle with many daily tasks sometimes, so it’s definitely not (for me at least) a case of ‘get the right meds and you can do everything you used to do’. I am also very aware that after a while, my current meds may lose their effectiveness.

I believe that in addition to taking medication, I can help myself by looking after myself to the best of my ability. That includes working on becoming more resilient. While I can’t control the challenges life throws at me every day (and I’m not even talking about the challenges of living with Parkinson’s – just the challenges of life in general which we all have to deal with), I can learn to deal with them better in order to reduce stress. I make a choice on a daily basis to keep working on this, because I know from personal experience that stress definitely aggravates my symptoms. Anything I can do to ease my symptoms is worth it.

I’ve tried to share a small insight into my experience so far of medications – which is one of the many things those of us with Parkinson’s need to consider. However, Parkinson’s is a very individual condition and people’s symptoms and reactions to medications or other treatments vary immensely.

One thing we do all have in common is that no current medication or treatment can slow down or halt the progression of our condition. And that is why it’s so important for people (with Parkinson’s and without) to unite for Parkinson’s on World Parkinson’s Day, to make a positive difference to the lives to people with Parkinson’s.

Please support World Parkinson’s Day on 11 April 2018


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