— The Conversation (@ConversationUK) February 16, 2016
It is a curious challenge to live with a disease for which you are in the “wrong” demographic. Back to the Future actor Michael J Fox was diagnosed with the condition at 29 but didn’t go public with it until he was 37. His high-profile struggle has raised awareness, but younger sufferers like Oliver still have to face the incredulity of others:
Another symptom is speaking quietly. I mumble a lot … so I tend to tell people I have Parkinson’s when they say: ‘I can’t hear what you’re saying.’ The common response is: ‘You aren’t old and you don’t shake.’
For Oliver, this is tantamount to a social denial of his illness.
Yet Parkinson’s is so much more than the visible symptoms. With it can come sleep disturbance, lethargy, depression, severe anxiety, hallucinations, insomnia, and constipation. People can also be affected by sexual dysfunction, a loss of sense of smell, a loss of concentration, a loss of confidence, fatigue and pain. No one person suffers from the same cluster of symptoms and, as the disease evolves, symptoms may intensify or new ones emerge.