Ten years ago, I sat in front of yet another neurologist, having lived in a state of suspended identity since being unofficially diagnosed a few weeks earlier. This was following a year of fruitless investigation into my complaints that my fingers ‘weren’t right’. I had been a professional guitar player, so was sensitive to change.
Today, however, it was the real deal. The tests were in. The consultation began with an explanation of the therapy the neurologist was going to start me on. “So I definitely have Parkinson’s?” I said. Her reply? “Oh, didn’t I say?”
“Well,” she said. “You have Parkinson’s.” When finally uttered, those three words first expanded to fill all the available space in my head, and then the whole of my being. I was exactly the same person as I was when I walked into the consultation room but also totally different. No longer an individual with stiff shoulders and dodgy fingers, I was now a set of symptoms. I turned from person to patient in a flash.