Chapter four - Meeting Michael
Well the shaking and falls continued and I was black and blue from head to toe as a result. By now it was October and still I was waiting for an appointment with the stroke clinic. I phoned the clinic several times only to be told that I was not an urgent case and that I would have to wait as they had patients who had had strokes that could neither walk or talk or do anything for themselves. They of course would take precedence and I understood this however soon events would intervene.
Again one morning I woke shaking uncontrollably. Laraine had to help me get out of bed and into the toilet. She said I was staring into space and had tears running down my face. She managed to get me back into bed and said she was going to take me to the hospital again. Although I could only manage a grunt And shake my head a little I was able to signal to her that I did not want to go nor did in want her to phone the doctor. As usual Laraine would have none of this and called our Lauren in for a second opinion. When Lauren saw me shaking and gasping for breath on the bed insisted that Laraine take me to hospital. So i was outvoted. It took over an hour to get me up, showered and dressed, and then another half hour to get me downstairs, taking them slowly one at a time and into the car. I hadn't had a drink for days so there was no way I was drunk but nevertheless having been dissatisfied with the care or rather lack of it I had previously received at Monklands I insisted in being taken to Glasgow royal infirmary where they had first diagnosed my " stroke ".
At first when we got to the royal we thought that they were going to dismiss us again. I could barely speak but Laraine told the doctor in casualty that I had previously had a stroke. He seemed surprised at this and asked us who had told us this and we told him it had been one of the professors there. The doctor in casualty however said that my notes from my previous stay there made no mention of a stroke and from what he had seen he doubted that I had had a stroke. However he agreed that we couldnt allow me to continue having these " episodes" as Laraine had begun to call them and therefore he would be admitting me into the hospital until they could get to the bottom of what was causing them. Although a bit concerned about what the outcome of further investigations might reveal we were both greatly relieved that I would be safe in hospital and we might soon find out what the problem was. We didn't know at the time that would only be a few days away.
Although the casualty doctor said that I hadn't had a stroke I was admitted to the stroke ward. This scared the hell out of me. There were guys in their who were younger than me who had suffered strokes who were doubly incontinent and couldn't walk or talk. I found this terribly upsetting especially when one of them, a young police constable before his stroke howled like a baby when he was told that he wouldn't be going home for some time. There were elderly men who couldnt talk and tried to communicate with bizarre, nigh pitched screeches and squwaks.I felt like a fraud in there. When I wasn't having one of my "episodes" I was fine. I could walk, talk and thankfully had full control of my bodily functions. Although the shaking of my right arm persisted. I did not receive much in the way of treatment whilst I was in there but what I didn't know was that I was being observed. After only being in there for a few days I was visited by Professor Stott who put me through the usual battery of tests, having me squeeze his hands, follow his finger with my eyes etc before asking me to walk the length of the ward and back again. He was silent for a moment and then said that he had been watching me for a couple of days and that he had good news and bad news for me. The good news was that I had not had a stroke but the bad news was that I had Parkinson's and that there was no cure. He also said some other things like " MIchael J Fox ", " Mohammed Ali ", " research " , " drugs " and " control ", but all I heard was " Parkinson's " and " No cure " ! Now we had lost my father to Alzheimer's six years previously and I assumed Parkinson's was just like Alzheimer's and that, like my father I would lose my mind. As far as I was concerned I was fucked. My life was over. Finito! Michael had definitely arrived and now we had been formally introduced. Now it was " Michael ? Meet Alan. Alan? Meet Michael "!
After professor Stott left me and moved on to another patient I texted Laraine. She had been in court that morning and just received my text as she left the court building. My text was very short and to the point " have just been told I have Parkinson's. Am fucked. Please don't visit this afternoon. I don't want to see anyone. Alan x ". Almost needless to say she was as shocked as I had been but there was no way I was going to stop her coming to the hospital that afternoon. She spent the few hours after court and leaving to come to the hospital researching Parkinson's on the Internet and by the time she got to the hospital at three she had become, or at least fancied herself as something of an expert.
Now if you are ill in our house you will get little in the way of sympathy. If you have a pain, take a painkiller and if you are going to die, die quietly. We have no time for self pity so Laraine was certainly not going to let me feel sorry for myself. Quite literally she stormed into the ward that afternoon. The minute I seen her walk in I knew She wasn't going to take any nonsense from me. But gently but firmly she talked me down out of the trees. She told me that Parkinson's was a motor disorder and was not alzheimers and that although there was no cure there were drugs that could control the symptoms that would allow me to lead a relatively normal life. No matter what however I was to pull myself together for it was to be " Business as usual " for us. A few moments after Laraine' arrival Professor Stott joined us. I have to admit I felt a bit small and vulnerable as the two of them stood, towering over me discussing my newly diagnosed condition like i wasnt there and the next steps that we would be taking. The first being that I would be given a starter pack of Ropinerole or " Rock n roll " as the Professor dubbed it and as there was nothing that the stroke ward could do for me I was to be discharged later that day but I was to attend the Parkinson's clinic at lightburn hospital in the week that followed. I was also to have a DAT scan of my brain to confirm my diagnosis.