Contributed by the Parkinson’s Society
When Peter Davison was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005, at 45 years of age, he didn’t tell anyone. He saw himself as an adventurer, high-altitude trekker and marathon runner, among other roles. “To have a disease that was going to be debilitating in my life was very difficult to come to terms with,” he says. “It took me over a year.”
Once Peter allowed himself to reach out to the people closest to him, he discovered it was ok to surrender some of the control in his life. He opened himself up to the new experiences of becoming a husband at 48 and a dad at 49, with the adoption of a baby girl, Hannah.
The prospect of Hannah arriving in Peter’s life brought some moments of self-doubt. “Can I handle the daily routines of a baby in my life, with a stiff arm?” he asked. “Would the birth mother want her baby to be raised in a family with someone who has a neurodegenerative disease? Would that be a deal-breaker?” It wasn’t.
Sure, it may take him twice as long to change Hannah because of the stiffness in his right hand. And he has to step carefully when carrying Hannah up or down the stairs, because he’s developing some stiffness in his right foot. But, Peter says, “Just because you have a disease doesn’t mean you can’t bring up a baby and be a loving parent.”