Beware the Wolves

If you were offered a chance to live without illness you’d take it, right? The golden promise of health, and longevity without too much effort? Or without any effort at all? Imagine if you are living with an inconvenient chronic illness. How tempting it could be to have a golden carrot dangled close to you, promising better health and – gasp – reversal of your disease with just a few simple actions?

I have Parkinson’s. I really wish I didn’t. It’s no fun popping pills all the time and being dependant on medicine. I work out three to four times a week. Not because I’m really into exercise, but because I have to if I want to keep my mobility working.

There are people out there promising cures. I’ve seen them. I’m not talking about people who genuinley work in health and health – based stuff like physiotherapists and gym instructors, mental health advocates and counsellors – I’m talking about the charlatens and sellers of snake-oil. People who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, smiling as they take your money while making false claims.

I’ve knocked comments off my blog posts a few times. They usually say things like “my grandparent had Parkinson’s. They were in such pain. Then they tried (insert name of product here) and the results were amazing! They are pain-free and able to move easily and walk unaided. Wow! They went to the doctor and they were baffled. It had completely gone! You can try (insert name of product) here!”

These products usually claim to be ‘all natural’, ‘chemical free’ and can be dispastched to you from our warehouse for only the price of a spare internal organ.

The worst of these people though are what I call the smiling assasins. The smiley people hiding in plain sight, posing as ‘people who help’ or ‘helping hand’ etd. They offer advice on how to deal with your condition, promise improved mental health and most dangerously, that they ‘may’ even reverse your symptoms.

Note that word ‘may”. It covers so many bases. It promises so much without promising anything. I became aware of these people through my own social media group. I was even asked recently to attend a call where they were speaking to a group of people. I read their website with interest.

I’m not saying that people cannot help others deal with psycological issues around their illness. That advice on excercise isn’t useful. Yet claiming you have a ‘plan’ that helps people and can even reverse issues is downright deceitful. People had left testimonials that they had improved their mental state. I have no issue with that. But there were also claims that genuine health professionals should heed their advice. That this person somehow held some ambrosia-like magic cure. That is a lie.

Most people with Parkinson’s will benefit from an exercise regime. This will improve health, fitness and mobility. Strength building and balance will help immensley. However, it will not stop the progression of Parkinson’s. It may help to slow the symptoms, it could help one to feel better, more empowered. It will not stop the dopamine deficiency and damage. My fitness has increased exponentially from when I was first diagnosed. When I was also very overweight and unhealthy. It is hardly surprising that sticking to better eating, reducing alcohol and exercising makes me appear to be a completley different person. My Parkinson’s symptoms are still not as prescient as they were when I was unmedicated and undiagnosed.

The outside world sees a healthy persoon unhindered by Parkinson’s. The reality of my life is much different. I am slow to get going and require time to ‘get up to speed.’ My medication wears off now, and my arm feels heavy. Sometimes I get a pain in my hips. I don’t know if it’s Parkinson’s or something else lurking around trying to get me. I limp when unmedicated, and I realise that that I’m not as fast a walker as I once was.

I’m trying to change all that with exercise. I am changing some of it, but I would never claim that I have ‘beaten’ or ‘reversed’ Parkinsons. I am forever grateful to the health professionals and exercise / physiotherapists and experts that have given me real, tangible results and sensible advice. They have not peddled lies and offered golden eggs in exchange for cold, hard cash.

Image shows a graph that has increasing health with increasing parkinson symptoms.
My ‘actual’ mobility is somewhere in the middle. Long may it remain so.

Let’s not forget the cold hard cash element. These ‘helpers’, these self-proclaimed ‘experts’ who do a course or two (that anyone can do – it’s not special) won’t give you this advice for free. It’s always in exchange for a quite-hefty fee.

They will maintain that they offer real results, but anyone that begins a new regime of regular exercise, healthy eating and genuine self-care will see overall improvements. These are leapt upon by the providers of the courses as ‘proof’. It is not proof. My brain is still missing dopamine. The underlying cause of my problems cannot be so easily eradicated. They are nothing but charlatans.

Why do I despise them? Because they prey on the weak, the scared, the frightened. They make promises they cannot deliver on. They take money from people with genuine disability and illness and profit from it. They don’t have the first idea what it is like to suffer with a chronic illness. They look upon us at best with sympathy and at worst as fools to be swindled.

On I go. Writing, making daft little films and trying to tell the world that Parkinson’s does not mean I’m useless. It’s a difficult fight sometimes. I too have bills to pay and receive no help from any quarter. Yet I would rather be poor and honest. These people – these self-proclaimed non-medical ‘experts’ are nothing but pond-life, despicable scum of the worst kind. I for one would like nothing more than to see them gone for good.

Until next time.


Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.  I write about life, my children, comedy and coping with early-onset Parkinson’s.

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