a The Belfast man said the form of struggle is an essential tool in his positive approach to diagnosing Parkinson’s life changed eight years ago.
In 2014, Patrick Crossan turned 50, and in the same year, he also received shocking news that he had this condition, but she did not allow him to bring it back again.
A father of two spoke from West Belfast on the eve of World Parkinson’s Disease Day on Monday, April 11.
Parkinson’s disease occurs when dopamine-producing brain cells begin to die. There are more than 40 symptoms, from tremor and pain to anxiety, hallucinations, and dementia.
Some are treatable, but medications can have serious side effects. Over time it gets worse and there is currently no cure.
Parkinson’s disease is the world’s fastest growing neurological disease, affecting nearly 4,000 people in Northern Ireland.
Racing heroes! Patrick, 58, is a former business consultant at BT, but after leaving the position he can spend more time with his wife Maureen, 28, and their two adult children, Kevin, 27, and Theresa, 23.
“Before a young person is diagnosed, there are people much younger than me who get the same diagnosis. It is becoming more common because more people are diagnosed earlier,” Belfast Live told.
One of Patrick’s first warning signs was when he had a small tremor in his left arm.
“My husband advised me to see him and I eventually went to a consultant who diagnosed me with Parkinson’s disease,” she said.
Despite his diagnosis and symptoms over the past eight years, Patrick has remained optimistic.
“I firmly believe I will keep trying until it becomes impossible, but there are some limitations that need to be overcome,” he explained.
“When I had an injury recently, I haven’t been able to exercise for some time and found that my symptoms, especially the chills, got a little worse.
“When I take a picture now, I had a normal smile, but it’s now forced, and it’s part of the ‘masks’ as they’re called.
“My anxiety can also increase at times because people are prone to developing Parkinson’s disease as a physical illness when it’s nervous.”
Patrick added: “My sleep can also be affected: I can mark points when I sleep well or, if not, I can scream as if I have nightmares, which affects not only me, but Morini as well.
“I try not to limit myself as much as possible, but fatigue can make you fall off a cliff sometimes. I can be in company or at a party and suddenly feel the need to leave.
“However, I remain completely positive and the only thing that bothers me is that people still view it as a disease of the elderly.
“It’s also a hidden disease that affects people’s self-esteem and once it’s gone, it can take some time to recover.”
Patrick’s currently consists of one tablet per day and two Nibri patches.
“My counselors and I have worked so hard that we will try to stop using drugs and do it as much as possible with training.
“As long as I can prevent the disease with minimal treatment, I will try to deal with yoga, athletics, golf and general fitness.
“I still train four or five days a week, so I back off and you have to work, otherwise it can catch up to you. The more you do, the more you resist the condition,” he added.
Since the day of his diagnosis, Patrick has been active in raising funds for Parkinson’s disease in the UK, as well as helping to set up Early Onset Café in Belfast on a monthly basis.
“Everyone I’ve met in the Parkinson’s community has had a very positive experience and we probably always need to fight back,” he said.
“Support groups are numerous, but people with early-stage Parkinson’s usually work during the day, so we run an evening bar on the third Thursday of every month.
“There’s no requirement to join – you can just come and go as you please – but we currently have 15 to 18 people attending each month,” Patrick explained.
“We sit and talk, we have a rather pleasant and friendly relationship, but it is also a way of showing those who have just been diagnosed that there is life after Parkinson’s disease.
“This is not a death sentence: you can still have a good life and not give up, but be patient.
“Obviously we’ve had dark days like everyone else and it’s been more difficult at times than I thought. However I’m still here and doing what I want to do.
He added, “I once saw someone with a tattoo saying ‘I have Parkinson’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease doesn’t bother me’.”
Several iconic buildings in Northern Ireland will be lit up blue on Monday to celebrate World Parkinson’s Day, including Enniskillen Castle, Newry Town Hall, Great Light and SoundYard at the Titanic Museum, Derry’s Playhouse and the University of Ulster buildings. Maggie and Coleraine.
The initiative is led by the UK in Northern Ireland for Parkinson’s Disease, which supports and advises people with Parkinson’s disease in NI.
Nicola Moore, Director of the UK’s National Parkinson’s Disease Centre, said: “Every year, World Parkinson’s Day gives us an opportunity to shine a light on Parkinson’s disease and its impact on people with Parkinson’s disease on a daily basis.
“Hopefully, when people see blue buildings, they will wonder why and it may take some time to understand Parkinson’s disease.”
I am Ida Scott, a journalist and content author with a passion for uncovering the truth. I have been writing professionally for Today Times Live since 2020 and specialize in political news. My career began when I was just 17; I had already developed a knack for research and an eye for detail which made me stand out from my peers.