Around 127,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a progressive neurological condition which has no cure. As part of Parkinson’s Awareness Week, which started yesterday, chief reporter Gaynor Clarke spoke to Peter Eagle and his wife, Pat, about the disease
While many people associate tremors with Parkinson’s, it was actually problems with his eyesight that led to Peter Eagle being diagnosed.
Three years ago, he went to his optician for an eye test after issues with his vision.
Peter, of Park Road, Leyland, said: “I was having trouble with my glasses and I went to the optician.
“He checked my eyesight and after a bit said I should go to see a neurologist.”
An appointment was made and Peter was diagnosed with Parkinson’s just five minutes after meeting the doctor.
Now 86, he said: “I was quite pleased really – not pleased because I had got Parkinson’s disease, but because the diagnosis had been quite quick.
“A lot of people who suffer with Parkinson’s don’t get it properly diagnosed for quite a long time.
“All the time it isn’t diagnosed, it’s getting worse.”
While the diagnosis can be a shock for many people, it was not for Peter, who had already started to suspect that he had the condition.
Common symptoms include tremors, muscle stiffness and slowness of movement, but one of the main problems is that many people do not have the same symptoms.
Peter said: “Everybody with Parkinson’s is different from one another, which makes it so difficult to diagnose properly.
“It’s an incurable condition – we never get better – but we can, as I have done, alleviate the symptoms with the right medication.”
As well as problems with his vision, Parkinson’s causes Peter to walk slowly and affects his speech.
He said: “I have difficulty in framing my words properly.
“I have to think very hard before I say anything and sometimes I just can’t get the words as I want.”
But in many ways, grandfather-of-four Peter is no different from the days when he worked as an engineer at the ROF factory.
And he has been able to keep singing with Leyland Male Voice Choir.
His wife, Pat, 76, said: “Looking at him, you wouldn’t know he had Parkinson’s.
“He doesn’t have the tremors and the obvious things.
“It’s only when he starts to talk or walk.”
And she is keen to give her backing to Parkinson’s Awareness Week.
Pat said: “I’m sure people need to know more about Parkinson’s.
“A lot of people have got it and a lot of people have it who don’t know.”
Peter and Pat are members of the Chorley and South Ribble branch of Parkinson’s UK, which provides advice, talks and social events for people with the disease and their carers.
The group meets from 2pm to 4pm on the first Tuesday of each month at Tatton Community Centre.
To mark Parkinson’s Awareness Week, the group has a stand at Chorley Library for the next two weeks, offering information and advice.
It will be manned from 10am to 4pm each day this week.
The Mayor of Chorley, Coun John Walker, is due to visit this morning and the group’s president, Chorley’s MP Lindsay Hoyle, is expected to visit on Friday afternoon.
For more information, call Pam Greenhalgh on 01257 269782 or Jean Ralph on 01257 671208.