Paris in the Spring

Posted: October 22, 2010By: Chris Boughton

It’s been a disappointing last few weeks. First of all Parkinson’s Disease (PD) conspired to keep me from attending the World Parkinson’s Congress in Glasgow, at the end of September and last week a bout of influenza (flu) kept me away from my PD forum’s most recent patient and carer Get-Together, at a hotel in the middle of the beautiful city of Chester. I really should not complain as I have not had a flu jab having foolishly convinced myself that my PD medication would somehow keep flu away. Also it is over six years since I last had a cold and even longer (25 years) since I last suffered a flu virus. All the same I was looking forward to Chester and I am bitterly disappointed.

My forum has had several Get-Togethers including a trip to Paris in March 2009 for seven (six lady members plus me) of us for three days, without our partners or carers. We all travelled from different parts of the UK to take the Eurostar, from Paddington to Paris, where we hired a small mini bus to get us to our hotel in the centre of the city. It was an amazing few days as we all helped and supported each other with whatever PD threw at us. On our first full day in Paris we took a chilly open top bus trip around the sites of the city, getting off and back on at various points.

Our longest stop was at the Musée d’Orsay, a large museum located in an impressive building that was formerly a railway station, built at the end of the 19th century and converted into a museum in 1986, to house art from the period 1848 to 1915. Consequently it has a large collection of impressionist painting; something I have a particular personal interest in. There were two good examples of how we pulled together as kindred spirits while we were visiting the museum. Firstly when we arrived it was raining, and also very cold, and being a Saturday there was a long queue outside to get into the museum. The lady forum member who had organised the Paris trip speaks pretty good French and put it to excellent use to convince a doorman to let us in via a side entrance (there did not appear to be an official disabled entrance), by explaining about our illness and waving around her disabled rail card. Without this bold intervention none of us could sensibly have waited outside in the rain for what would have been at least 30 minutes. A second incident occurred inside the museum whilst I was attempting to impress the ladies with my limited knowledge of Pissarro, Sisley and Renoir. One of our group had a freezing episode (akinesia) and had to lie down on the floor of the museum for 10 minutes and just wait for it to pass, much to the surprise of the museum staff who, whilst bemused, were very helpful. Everyone of our group rallied round to make light of the event and help distract her from the distress of the situation. At least it happened amongst some of the most stunning art ever painted, was my contribution!

There were other incidents including one of us having acute bradykinesia (slowness of movement) which nearly caused us to miss a bus and another having a panic attack on the train when it stopped, for over two hours, just outside the channel tunnel, on the way home, due to the train in front of us having broken down in the tunnel. But it was lovely how we all helped and supported each other and consequently we had a wonderful short Spring trip to Paris. There is currently talk of another forum trip to Paris in the coming Spring, at which I may get another chance to bore for England about Impressionism. My life with PD is made so much easier by my forum friends.

22nd October 2010

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.

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