Living Life to the Fullest with Parkinson's
Emma Lawton, a graphic designer living in London, was diagnosed 5 years ago with Parkinson's disease. She was only 29. In spite of her condition, she has become an award winning campaigner.
The following are excerpts from our interview.
So I was diagnosed with Parkinson's at the age of twenty nine, it came after a really long period of time of not feeling quite right in myself. At that point nothing sort of, nothing physical really to start with, just not being able to make decisions for a while, having problems with clarity of thought, lots of kind of things like that and I was feeling a bit depressed and then I started getting this weird kind of stiffness in my right arm. When I saw my dad, he used to kind of shake my hand to test the strength because he was concerned that I wasn't using it in the way that I used to use it. And my colleagues and friends at work referred to my hand as the claw because I couldn't kind of control my mouse properly.
My diagnosis was a massive shock because I wasn't expecting Parkinson's, I mean I'd kind of read up some stuff about it working on the web site at work, I kind of knew a little bit about it. But it's something that's predominantly found in older men to be honest, so I wasn't really expecting Parkinson's.
- and I just thought actually there is a lot of humor in Parkinson's, even the darkest days, there's humor in them, there's funny things to see. And if I wrote like that it made those stories accessible for people and they warm to it and they found it easy to digest.
And I think humor is a really important tool in helping you as a person get through something but also helping educate those around you.
We find humor in every situation because if you're not laughing you're crying and that's kind of too miserable to even think about. So, it was really important to me to tell my story with humor because it's been a humorous couple of years. A lot of very ridiculous things have happened.
So I decided to do stand-up comedy in the middle of the night, again, I have this kind of dangerous hour where I shouldn't go on the internet I think, and I make all these rash decisions of things I really want to do. And I thought maybe I'll try stand-up comedy.
Parkinson's itself is quite funny because you are essentially a human jelly, you are just shaking and it's, a lot of people won't find it funny, they won't have found that humour and I don't want to seem like I'm belittling it, it's a very difficult condition. But it is, it is quite ridiculous, it's a ridiculous thing that your body is trying to deal with.
I have a list of things that I want to achieve before I am forty but I am constantly adding to it and constantly trying to rush through them because I am so keen to do stuff so I definitely want to do stand up on a stage that is bigger than the one that I was on before, I want to do it you know, somewhere sort of professionally.
I really would love to have flying lessons because I am quite scared of flying and I almost signed up for them this year, but I didn’t get my application in time.
I want to do more sailing because I've done a bit of sailing this year and I want to try and sail a ship myself if I can, that would be great.
So I don't want to restrict myself by kind of almost putting together a list because I know some great opportunities will come that I am not even aware of yet which is really exciting.