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A mother shares her story of living with Parkinson's disease

PICTURED: Omotola Thomas

OMOTOLA THOMAS, a mum of two, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological condition, in 2016 at the age of 35 but her symptoms started five years before. Originally from Nigeria, she now lives in Surrey.

Here, she shares her story of living with Parkinson’s with The Voice on World Parkinson’s Day (April 11).

It took five years of seeing different doctors and having all sorts of tests before I got my Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Parkinson’s can make it really hard to do things that other people take for granted. I think the most difficult symptom for me is my tremor, it gets worse if I get stressed and can be extremely challenging when out in public.

The loss of fine motor skills is also really difficult. Suddenly, trying to do your daughter’s shoelaces or do up buttons on clothing becomes impossible. It took me 10 hours to unbraid, wash and condition my daughter’s hair – I feel bad that she had to go through that. My handwriting has also become really difficult to read.

Anxiety and depression is another thing people don’t realise people with Parkinson’s have to cope with. It’s the invisible symptom but some days you are constantly battling against negative thoughts.

For me, there are so many small things that come with Parkinson’s but all those little drops make up an ocean and that becomes a lot for one person to handle.

The worst thing is that Parkinson’s makes you feel like you are not enough – not enough as a wife, as a mum and as a friend. I’ve had to learn to accept help from others, I don’t know where I would be without my husband.

Coping with the condition
Thomas started a new morning routine after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. It involved waking at 4.30am and spending two interrupted hours praying, listening to inspirational music and words, eating a healthy breakfast, and exercising. She also launched a website and blog to share her experiences and to support others living with the condition.

The two things that help me cope are exercise and my faith. I started my website ParkinStand after my diagnosis to empower others to live well with Parkinson’s. I am determined to defy the limitations that Parkinson’s has placed on me.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s but treatments and therapies can help people to manage the condition. To find out more about Parkinson’s, visit parkinsons.org.uk. You can also follow the hashtag #UniteForParkinsons on Twitter.

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