Faces of Parkinson’s

Dave Morse, Perth, Western Australia

Let me introduce myself, My name is David Morse, I am 62 years old, I live in Perth, Western Australia, along the banks of the Swan River in an area called Bicton with my beautiful wife Fran, and our lovely labrador Daisy. We have two grown up sons who are both in the marine industry, running their own businesses involving skippering and vessel management. I have been a boat builder shipwright for 40 years plus and have been involved with many exciting projects around the world.

I was diagnosed at the age of 56 years old after I noticed that my left arm was getting stiff and slightly tremoring. Along with noticing that I didn’t quite have the same drive that I used to have, but to cut a long story short, I inquired about this condition with my local family doctor. I was thinking to myself that it was a sign of getting older and some arthritis in my joints. Alas, after a few tests to look for pinched nerves, I was told that I had Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s at 50 years of age. I thought to myself that if this is as bad as it gets, I can handle this no worries. But, as we have all experienced, it does progress. Now I am finding an inner strength that I never knew I had!

I have tried to keep on working with the family business, as I love my job. I have found that it is difficult to keep up the pace and achieve the results I used to achieve before my diagnosis.  I have always been a go getter.  One thing I have learned after being diagnosed, especially if you are at the top of your job before getting diagnosed, is to let it go and find something different. If you try to keep on going to get the same result or better results, you will tear yourself apart in frustration. Although I still do a little managing type work on the boats, I decided to pursue my other passion which is photography.  So to put it in a nutshell, pursue your passions even if you are a beginner and just let it flow and find your inner enjoyment. Good for you and for putting Parkie at rest.

For some of you, you may be aware of my photography, as I post on many of the Parkinson’s groups to start one’s morning off with a “Good Morning”, photo, and caption. Over the last two years, I have been supplying the Shake It Up Australia Foundation, who are in partnership with Michael J. Fox Foundation, with Sunday Inspirational Quotes on my photos. I quite enjoy matching my photos up to the appropriate quote. I also go down to the surfing, kite boarding, and doggy beaches as a freelance photographer taking action photos. People love them! I arm myself with my flyers, which state what I am all about with my photography and raising funds for Parkinson’s Research.  So far, so good.  This is my way of getting the word out there about Parkinson’s and raising donations along the way.  

I am a very positive person, but there are days (like we all have) where things just don’t go right. I have found that photography is the release that I need, and a chance to be artistic.

My typical morning now starts off with a early walk down the river with Daisy Dog to capture the sunrise. I have the whole place to myself, especially at 4:00 in the morning! haha! I listen to some nice music on my iPhone, toss Daisy a stick or two to play with, do some gentle exercises for my Parkinson’s, use my brain to figure out the best composition and configuration to take my photos, making it a win-win situation all around!

I will leave my story now and hope you have enjoyed it and learned a little bit more about the man behind the camera. 

To all my Parkie Warriors— please hang in there, think positive, find a passion that you enjoy no matter what, remember to keep on having a laugh, and smile, as this is the best of the medicines there are!

Ann Beaird, Alabama, USA

For many of us, our jobs and careers can form a great deal of our identities.  In addition to simply providing us with money to live on, our jobs give us a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and often times boost our self-esteem.  

With a satisfying job, we can feel that we are contributing to society in a very positive way, so it’s no surprise that when Parkinson’s becomes advanced enough to limit or destroy our ability to hold a job, it can bring about an intense feeling of grief and mourning. This is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed of.  Studies have repeatedly shown that simply feeling useful, often through a job we truly enjoy, is one of the essential components of a happy life.

For a little over 20 years I worked as a commercial carpenter and structural welder for a major construction firm.  It was a very physical job that I really enjoyed and made a very good living from.    Then came the day that I could barely walk across the jobsite due to the pain in my feet and legs.  I started dropping things constantly.  Not a good thing when you are working on hanging steel seven stories up.  

After several months of increasingly bad symptoms I finally relented and retired from the only work I had known for over 2 decades.  I’ll be very honest and tell you that my transition has not been an easy one and I am still working to establish my niche in this “new normal”.  

Of course, it helps greatly if you have a supportive spouse or partner that’s also helping with the bills, but I believe there are still great possibilities for those of us that live alone.  For many of us, working at home may be the best option and we are quite fortunate that so much is available through the Internet.  Many IT jobs can be done at home, for example.  There are many online courses a person can take to expand their education or prepare for a new job.  If you make crafts or art there are countless possibilities for selling your work yourself with online galleries, such as Etsy or ArtFire, which I also do.  

There are many local colleges that offer adult Continuing Ed. courses.  These are great resources for new job ideas.  I know of one fellow Parkie that created a successful little cottage industry of baking and decorating cakes.  The possibilities are really as diverse and numerous as we are.

Perhaps some of our new jobs are not as earth-shatteringly important as we used to have; I don’t get to build hospitals and universities anymore, for one.  But I think that our new directions can be immensely enjoyable and maybe even give us an excuse to indulge in a career that we might not have considered previously.  Any new endeavor takes time to establish though, even for totally healthy folks, so be kind to yourself and keep striving.   

We’ll get there.