Pregnancy and (Undiagnosed) Parkinson’s Disease
I was commuting to work when I noticed that something was significantly wrong with my left arm and leg. The limbs on the left side of my body were significantly weaker than my right arm and right leg.
For me, there was a noticeable and stark contrast in the power and ability between the different sides of my body.
My first pregnancy
I was 3 months pregnant with my daughter. My first pregnancy. Initially, I dismissed it, pushed it to the inner recesses of my mind. I had just gotten married, moved to a new city, started teaching at a new school during the week, and tutoring students on the weekend.
I did not have time to slow down. So, I pressed mute on the alarm bells signals that my brain and body were urging me to listen to. Instead, I continued to plow on, flogging my deeply diminishing dopamine reserves more and more.
Questioning my symptoms
However, as the pregnancy progressed and these peculiar and pesky physical symptoms showed no signs of abating, I reluctantly confided in my husband that I had noticed something was awry on my left side. I had always been fiercely independent and stoic and hated showing any signs of weakness.
So, I was embarrassed to be seen as struggling. I always took great pride in my ability to exude outward confidence and competence. But in his typically unflappable and unshakeable manner, my husband dismissed the severity of my concerns.
Instead, he just laughed it off and swept my worries under the carpet. Which forced me to plod on as normal and even question the severity of my symptoms. I would never have guessed then this would signify the onset of a chronic condition, which would ultimately limit my mobility and the overall quality of my life.
Weakness on my left side
Unsurprisingly, as my pregnancy progressed, I was forced to seek a medical explanation for what was happening in my body. In my second trimester, I went to see my general practitioner (GP) to see if he could offer some sort of explanation.
He asked me to do some basic push and pull strength tests and confirmed my suspicions were correct. There was a disparity between the left and right side of my body regarding strength. But he explained that because I was pregnant, it was exceedingly difficult to poke and prod me in pursuit of a diagnosis.
He told me there was little that he could do, but that if these baffling symptoms persisted after I had given birth, he would happily pursue a line of investigation then.
Silently, I prayed in my heart that I would not have to return to him. I hoped that when I had given birth, that my body would ping and reset to its normal, pre-pregnancy. Sadly, that was not the case for me.
I lost my independence
Things go downhill... fast. When my daughter was born, the symptoms seemed to exacerbate tenfold in severity. I slowly shuffled my way back to my GP, a completely broken person in body and mind.
He was stunned to see the dramatic deterioration in me. He was an experienced and prudent practitioner, and he could clearly see that something had seriously malfunctioned in my body. So, he referred me to a neurologist, for an urgent appointment.
The neurologist appointment was in January 2013. By then, I had lost all my independence, mobility, and freedom. My mum had been forced to move in with me and become the carer for me and my newborn baby. My balance was so unsteady. Standing was near impossible. If I tried to stand, within a few milliseconds, I would just topple over.
I felt small
My legs wobbled like jelly. My left hand was clenched in a permanent tight fist. I was unable to wake more than 10 meters. I was engulfed in a cloud of dark, corrosive depression.
The advent of motherhood should have been an exciting time in my life. But instead, I felt as if my life had ended. As my physical ability diminished, my mental and emotional state diminished too. I become smaller...
Smaller in steps.
Smaller in posture.
Smaller in gesticulation.
Smaller in voice.
Smaller in courage.
Smaller in hope.
To be continued...
Have you or a loved one ever tried speech therapy?