THE BLOG
08/02/2018 11:05 GMT | Updated 08/02/2018 11:05 GMT

A Menopausal Moment? No, It's Parkinson's!

I found myself answering the door with a blank look on my face and no knowledge of the person standing in front of me

Juanmonino via Getty Images

So, I’m in my 50s! I’ve gone through the menopause – so all those aches, pains, and names escaping me are just one of those things that happen.

Time after time there would be a joke made about forgetting a name! For me it wasn’t the name of a person, it was those ‘things’ I had been using for years. “I’m just having a menopausal moment,” I laughed.

I read articles written by others on how to overcome this annoying problem. That’s how I thought of it, only temporary, something that would rectify itself once those dratted hormones settled down. I bowed to those with far more experience and knowledge about memory problems than myself.

So I made myself link the word to an image in my mind, as you do. It was no use trying to conjure up a picture of the object itself because there it was in front of me! Teasing me with its presence. Laughing at my inability to recall its name. What did it do – this ‘thing’ that eluded me? Where was it kept? Then there was the other ‘one’. Now that had something to do with the cooker as well, but what is it called? Even now my mind is searching its recesses trying to recall the first letter. If I get that far the rest should follow. It’s flat and it can take lots of heat without burning. It is non stick. That’s it! Teflon sheet! I remember its name at last, but what a chore. I know the next time the same process will happen again and then there is no guarantee it will come as quickly. Some days it takes a hour or two before it will suddenly pop into my mind out of nowhere.

Then came that day last November; I found myself answering the door with a blank look on my face and no knowledge of the person standing in front of me. My brain was telling me something was wrong but I didn’t know what. This was not me! There was always something there previously that said, ‘Oh yes, you silly idiot I remember now!’ Not this time.

At the end of the month was my appointment with a neurologist. The doctor in our medical practice had noticed a tremor in my hand. “How long have you had it?” she asked. To be honest I couldn’t recall. It had been there a year or so probably. What did you think it was? “A side effect of having a cortisone injection,” I replied unconcerned. Knowing that the needle had been inserted close to a main nerve in my thumb, there had been the assumption on my part that he’d gone a bit too close. The look she gave me was exactly the same as the one from the neurologist when I gave her the very same answer: one of disbelief. The diagnosis didn’t take long... Parkinson’s Disease.

What link does that have to forgetfulness? Voraciously researching the internet about Parkinson’s, it comes under the heading of mild cognitive impairment. Thankfully it sounds much worse than it is (or at least I hope). These cognitive symptoms can be exaggerated by anxiety/stress or sleep problems that are caused by muscle pains at night. ‘It may be there is a problem with the passing of messages in the brain,’ the Parkinson’s UK internet site told me. That makes sense I told myself, as Dopamine is a neurotransmitter – transmitting signals in the brain. Obviously my transmitters are not all firing as they should be, a bit like an engine that’s coughing and spluttering when not enough fuel is getting to the necessary parts.

For most women it is just the side effects of the menopause. For the few like myself they were the unseen aspects of Parkinson’s. I am not a doctor. This is my own experience as someone newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.