All at Sea

Posted: August 17, 2012By: Chris Boughton

We have just returned from two weeks of sun and sea on a Mediterranean cruise, but it all seems a distant memory already with strong winds and heavy rain outside as I type this blog.  My wife and I enjoyed a ‘no fly’ cruise from Southampton, which really suits my personal blend of Parkinson’s symptoms. It was the fourth cruise we have taken in the last 6 years and apart from any rough days at sea, it is an ideal way for me to take holidays. Sudden onset, and severe, fatigue episodes are a significant feature of my life with Parkinson’s Disease and having the cabin only 5 minutes away from anywhere on-board is wonderful.  We also have a cabin, with a balcony, because if the sea is rough (force 7 or more) and I am stuck in the cabin, due to poor balance, then I don’t feel so hemmed in. Thankfully I don’t get sea sick, despite my balance problems, so I do not mind observing the sea, although it is annoying to be unable to stay upright; ideally it needs to be force 6 or less to be PD friendly for me.  Thankfully my wife really enjoys the cruises too. She has very good sea legs and does not mind whether the sea is calm or rough; she just loves being at sea.  We celebrated her 60th birthday whilst we were on this cruise.

I experienced more incidents of wearing off on this trip than I have on previous cruises. Initially I was concerned that this was a permanent deterioration in my illness, but since we have returned I have been able to manage my medication and wearing off episodes successfully. The wind was never any worse than force 7 and most of the time the sea conditions were very good, even going through the notoriously rough Bay of Biscay. Cruising is a very sociable, gregarious way to holiday and perhaps the increased level of socialising made excessive demands on the depleted dopamine levels in my brain. I have my 6-monthly check-up with my neurologist tomorrow so we will see what he makes of it all. It will not, however, put me off using cruises for our annual vacation. I have to use a wheelchair to get on and off ship but otherwise I generally cope very well with the cruise ship environment. We went ashore at 3 of the 6 ports we visited (Barcelona, Cadiz and Alicante) but I could only tolerate the heat for about an hour and a half. If we cruise next year I think we will head back to Scandinavia or the Baltic where it is a lot cooler. Maybe it is also time for me to consider using a mobility scooter for shore trips. Whilst I am not sure I am emotionally ready for such a device, it will at least enable us to see more on our shore stops. Overall our latest cruise was a lovely holiday.

As usual I have prepared for my imminent neurologist consultation with military precision. I have compiled my detailed PD symptom sheet and an agenda, highlighting my specific concerns. This is the most important 20 minutes of every 6 months and the appointment time has to be optimised.  I may think I know a fair bit about PD, but my consultant knows a great deal more!

Chris Boughton

Chris Boughton

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in February 2004 at the age of 51 having experienced undiagnosed symptoms for at least 4 years prior to that. My wife and I have five adult children and three grandchildren. We are fortunate in that we live in a lovely rural part of the east of England, with King’s Forest situated nearby for my much needed, therapeutic dog walks. I spent most of my working life involved in electronic, mechanical manufacturing management within the Worldwide Broadcasting industry and I am extremely lucky to have travelled extensively through my work. Since I was diagnosed I have dedicated much of my time to researching all aspects of PD and trying to both support others with this illness and raise the profile of PD. As well as writing a blog on this website, I administer an internet patient forum for people with PD which I set up in September 2008 and it currently has over 150 members. I also administer the forum’s Facebook, Friends Reunited and Twitter pages. My younger son recently ran in a half marathon race to raise funds for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. I am currently studying for a BA (Hons) in English and History as a mature student.

View all posts by this author

Helpful information about adjusting to life with Parkinson's

See more, hear more and share more on our social page