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David had been a fit and active figure in the community for many years, running swimming classes, badminton sessions and supporting the Stonehouse Gang in Birmingham as they provide for youngsters who need life skills and mentoring.

He knew all about classical Parkinson’s and can relate stories of his father and brother who both displayed the shuffle and stiffness associated with the disease. Their diseases had been gradual and allowed for a degree of mobility and independence.

There was a monster lurking for David though, and at the rare end of the spectrum lies the Cortico Basal form of Parkinson’s which is very aggressive and which is quickly robbing David of the use of his body bit by bit.

Starting with a reduction in fine motor control diagnosed as old age brain shrinkage because of a puzzling absence of the classic tremors or frozen facial expression – falls, lack of muscle control and nerve pain has now resulted in a proper diagnosis for David.

It was a huge shock for everyone in the family. Because it is rare, there is a lot less known about it and less research into treatment. The medical options are extremely limited and now the whole family is involved in keeping David at home and comfortable.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed in such circumstances, but Willow Wood day care has become a very important date every week in David’s calendar. He gets out, has some relaxing treatments and talks to people who really understand his frustrations and fears. The atmosphere is cheery and empathetic. David is limited in what he can do, but something stimulating is always organised for him and he is often surprised to see family members when they arrive to take him home. David always sleeps well on a Thursday night. Nothing is too much trouble and drinks are thickened for him and feeding done with willingness and generosity. These are wonderful people.

Willow Wood has given the family access to professionals for talk and advice. David’s main carer has a period of time for herself and is refreshed when David comes home ready to chat about the day’s events. The family are very grateful for the first class care that David receives while at Willow Wood and alongside the other services that support him…the situation becomes small enough to cope with day to day.

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