I have noticed recently that newspapers, when reporting the death of a well-known person who suffered from PD, often draw attention to this fact. Sometimes they even seem to be implying that the person died of PD, either directly or as a result of complications associated with another complaint. For example, when Bob Hoskins died at the end of April, The Guardian’s first report included these words: ‘His agent said that he died on Tuesday, surrounded by his family, suffering from pneumonia. He retired in 2012 following a diagnosis with Parkinson's disease in the autumn of 2011.
Earlier in the same month, when Margo MacDonald the Scottish politician died, The Guardian wrote: ‘Margo MacDonald… died on Friday aged 70 after a long, public struggle with Parkinson’s disease. In later life, after her Parkinson’s became more severe, MacDonald had championed the case for assisted suicide and was working on her latest attempt to put an assisted suicide bill up in the Scottish parliament.
For those of us with PD these reports can be disturbing. Until now I’ve never really worried unduly about those persistent viruses it is difficult to shake off and nor have I ever really thought of myself as suffering from a ‘terminal illness’ that might lead to me wanting to take my own life. When I asked my neurologist about what the future held for me he replied that unfortunately he didn’t have a crystal ball. Fair enough, I know PD affects different people in different ways, but the uncertainty is becoming unsettling.