I am always scouring the internet, reading articles and keeping abreast of new developments that may help improve my quality of life, living with Parkinson's. Just like other patients, I have learnt an awful lot in the eight years since diagnosis. But despite all the available information and educating oneself, Parkinson's appears to always be one step ahead. If it weren't for a sense of humour and positive outlook, living with this degenerative neurological disease would be a terrible existence.
Trying to sleep at night is sometimes like fighting a losing battle. Turning over in bed has become extremely difficult and sometimes near to impossible. Slippery silky sheets and nightwear help to a degree, but do not solve this very common problem. I must resemble a beached whale, as I flounder and wriggle trying with all my might to roll over. Having difficulties in swallowing is another symptom many patients experience which seems to get worse at night, probably due to one's horizontal position. Sitting up in bed does alleviate this difficulty a little, but have you ever tried sleeping in a sitting position? Most uncomfortable if you were to ask me!
As if this isn't enough of a struggle, insomnia reigns supreme and mocks me as I torture myself with constant glances at the clock. They say a watched kettle never boils, well let me tell you that a watched clock just reminds you of every minute you are not asleep! My dear husband who has the patience of a saint, is resigned to all these night-time antics. The nights are difficult enough with Parkinson's, but add into the equation a spider, and you can throw any notion of a good night's sleep out of the window!
I had just found a comfortable position in bed one night and began to drift off, when I suddenly became aware of something crawling on my back. I lay still for a moment concentrating, making sure I wasn't imagining things, and sure enough felt the horrid sensation of an insect making its way towards my neck. I let out a shriek followed by some frantic struggles to get out of bed and turn on the light. Doing this quickly is harder said than done when you have Parkinson's disease! My husband who had been blissfully asleep, jumped out of bed and then gave me a knowing look which meant "there's no spider - it's Parkinson's, right?" After a thorough search, flinging back the sheets and plumping the pillows, not finding anything, we gave up the search. Feeling foolish, I lay back down and tried to banish thoughts of creepy crawlies invading our bed.
During the summer we had the occasional harmless insect that wandered into the house, but the most annoying unwelcome visitors by far have to be mosquitos. Don't you just hate how mosquitos have the irritating habit of buzzing dangerously close to one's ear? As soon as the lights are turned on, inevitably the noise stops and there is no sign of the mosquito anywhere. Turn off the light and snuggle down just long enough to be on the verge of falling asleep, when the pesky mosquito reappears and will happily torment you like this for hours into the night.
The spider must have read the "Mosquito manual on how to best irritate humans" for no sooner had the bedroom light been turned off, we'd settled down and calm reigned once more, than the spider made its presence known. This time I was a little quicker and caught sight of the offending spider. Brushing the spider off my arm and onto the floor, I grabbed one of my slippers and with a resounding thud brought it down on the eight legged intruder. In the morning, evidence of the night's antics still lay squashed on the floor. It's not often I'm glad to find a spider, but in this case it was proof I'd not been subjected to a weird Parkinson's hallucination, nor was it a figment of my furtive imagination.