This week has seen World Parkinson's Awareness day and, in the UK, Parkinson's Awareness week. I assume the aim is to make the general public - and the medical profession- 'aware' that PD is not simply 'getting shaky in old age' but is a complex and devastating degenerative neurological disease that affects people of all ages and can devastate lives. And also to raise 'awareness' of the very complicated drug regime that is necessary as the disease progresses. In this context I think we'd all agree that 'awareness' means knowledge and understanding. People's knowledge and understanding grows when they are provided with information that is clear, unambiguous and engaging. Oh, yes - and it needs to be high profile. If the only people who knew it was Parkinson's Awareness week were people living with Parkinson's that would be a bit silly, wouldn't it? So if we're going to have a 'Parkinson's Awareness Week' in the UK it needs to be a focused, attention-grabbing campaign across all the national media - just like the highly visible and therefore very effective campaigns run by, to name a just a few - Alzheimer's UK, The British Heart Foundation, The NSPCC . . . .
So, let's imagine that you have had young onset PD for 11 years, are reliant on l-dopa every 3 hours and are getting pretty sick of people assuming you're drunk , or not understanding why you can change in fifteen minutes from 'normal' to feeling and looking like death warmed up. In other words let's pretend you're me. Yippee you think, it's Parkinson's Awareness Week. Strange that I have seen nothing in the national media about it or any 'celeb' popping up to put the word about . . .but hey, I must have somehow missed it. Here's a good idea, I will visit the website of the society that exists to support us - the zingingly named PDUK who are organising the whole PD awareness thing.
And what do I find? I find 'Up Your Friendly'. That's all:- Up. Your. Friendly.
Words fail me. I have to believe, because the evidence is staring out at me, that someone in a senior role at PDUK actually sat down and decided that 'Up Your Friendly' was the best way to disseminate 'awareness' about Parkinson's Disease. Why? How? My mind is completely and utterly boggled.
There's only one possible response to the joker who foisted this on us: Up Your Game - unless you intend to make a laughing stock of the whole Parkinson's community.