Put yourself in someone else’s shoes – for Parkinson’s Awareness Week

April 15, 2013

Lovely shoesWhat’s your favourite pairs of shoes and why? Here’s my top three:

1) My wedding shoes, lovely lovely Jimmy Choos. For all the obvious reasons. They are having a bit of a sabbatical at the moment as alas, I don’t get much cause to wear them to the park or playgroup

2) My newest pair, flip-flops from the very home of the Havaiana (a holiday present from my brother and his Brazilian girlfriend, hi Gabi!). Because I’m so optimistic that it’ll be warm enough to wear them soon

3) Eliza’s first shoes. Not just because of all the comedic buying trauma, but because they signify so much; independence, growth, my tiny newborn baby girl taking literal and metaphorical steps towards toddlerdom

But why am I talking about shoes? Well, why not, right – but mainly because this week is Parkinson’s Awareness Week 2013, set up by the Parkinson’s UK charity. The strapline for the week is ‘put yourself in my shoes’, which came from someone with it who said he wished that people could understand what his life is like. The aim of the week is to expose some of the realities of living with Parkinson’s and help the public to better understand the condition.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that one person in every 500 has in the UK. It’s not supposed to be genetic, although three members of my family have it (so they’re either freakily unlucky, or it shows how much money needs to be raised for new research).

It’s not terminal, but it is massively limiting; my Dad’s consultant told my parents to ‘imagine life is a square, and it means that your square will gradually get smaller over time’. He did go on to tell him to climb Everest sooner rather than later, if it was ever something he’d wanted to do – particularly funny as my Dad is decidely unkeen on heights.

But what’s it like to live with? Diagnosis is a pretty cruel blow, and it just progresses from there. It’s hard on those who have it, and also everyone around them. It is cruel, but then so is life really, and at the same time life is also amazing, joyful, and wondrous too. And if you stopped to think about most things too much you’d never get out of bed in the morning, would you? (difficult when you have a small person pawing at your face demanding cereal).

I have a couple of posts coming up in honour of the week, in an attempt to explain what life is like for people who have it, and how it crosses the generations – and hopefully banish some of the public pre and misconceptions about it along the way. And more than anything, help you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Parkinson’s Week 2013 runs from 15th – 21st April. Lots more information on what’s going on and how you can get involved is available on the Parkinson’s UK website. Also follow @ParkinsonsUK on Twitter.


  • Rachel

    April 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    We had a family friend with Parkinsons. I was pretty young when he died, but I remember going to their house and being frightened by his fits, because they seemed to come out of nowhere. Saddest thing was that his mind was sharp as anything. I really hope that the charity is able to find research to help other people. Thinking of you. x

    1. gillian

      April 23, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Thank you so much xx

  • Melaina25

    April 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    My Grandfather had Parkinson’s and it’s not something I’d ever wish on anyone.

    1. gillian

      April 23, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Horrible, isn’t it – your poor Grandfather and family x

  • Mary Keynko

    April 16, 2013 at 8:40 am

    It is a horrid disease, my husbands G’ma died of it some years back. I had no idea about the campaign but will share this around to help!

    1. gillian

      April 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Thank you so much! It’s such a good campaign, the recent ad campaign is worth checking out too (they tried to portray how simple things can be really difficult via mixed up images – looks a lot better than my description!) x

  • shirley

    April 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    No matter how close we are to someone with Parkinsons we can never understand how everyday simple tasks to us are so difficult to do,like putting on your oEwn shoes.

    1. gillian

      April 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm

      So true, we can never know what it’s like in anyone else’s head really, or the frustrations and things they have to deal with, Guess we can only help as much as possible…x

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