Belfast poet Frank Ormsby is interviewed about his experience of Parkinson’s Disease. Gentle, downbeat and precise in his speech, he describes the tremor in his hand, and how it varies during his moods or with stress. He is humorous too, telling jokes against himself and his Parkinson’s walk, and recalling Billy Connolly jokes about his PD.
The time to undo parcels or tie his laces is expanding. He can no longer drive. And this causes a separation between him and those people who are moved to offer help. He experiences visual hallucinations that people the corner of his field of vision.
His medication is stored in the bread barrel, about ten tablets a day (mostly for his Parkinson’s but also for diabetes and other ailments). The drugs cause side-effects including obsessiveness and flatulence – but at least that gives another hinge for humour.
Some of his poetry features his Parkinson’s Disease, and particularly his hallucinations, and the poems are heard through the programme.
This is curiously gentle and uplifting, even as Frank describes his symptoms and fears for the later stages of PD. I came away treasuring the sound of his low reverberent chuckle.
Frank Ormsby’s Parkinson’s, BBC Radio 4, The Art of Living, 30 mins
Broadcast Sat 2 Dec 2017 23:30