For the last 37 years, I have worked in the field of Parkinson’s in one way or another. First as a PhD student studying dopamine release in the basal ganglia, then as an academic leading a small research team and, more recently, working as a patient advocate with the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. I have had Parkinson’s myself for 10 years.
So, all in all, I think I’ve pretty much paid my dues in the field of Parkinson’s. And as I’ve grown older, I find work harder and Parkinson’s harder still.
Parkinson’s takes its toll in so many ways but especially on family and friends. And I’m aware that the harder and longer I work, the less time I have for my family.
Weighing everything up, I made the decision recently to take early retirement, perhaps appropriately, at the end of April, Parkinson’s Awareness Month. It’s time to take a back seat and to have more time to reflect and focus on a handful of smaller but stimulating initiatives. I’m not giving up on the Parkinson’s – just channeling my energies into more focused areas. And above all, I’m not giving up on the many friends I’ve met through Parkinson’s. You guys have kept me going and I hope you will still.
Retirement will give me time to think, to write and to do all those little jobs I’ve been promising to address. But, more than any of this, it will give me the chance and time to try to be the father I should have been all along.