In the third episode of our Parkinson’s Life podcast series, Danish politician Elisabeth Ildal and Irish Parkinson’s advocate Gary Boyle share their honest experiences of navigating the workplace, from coming out the “Parkinson’s closet” to a “need to participate in life”
Five months before being elected as a city council member in Denmark, Elisabeth Ildal was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s. She recalls: “I was terrified of what would happen if anybody knew.”
Appearing on episode three of the Parkinson’s Life podcast, the politician, Parkinson’s advocate and blogger discusses how she feared the diagnosis would affect her working life. “Working for me is a big part of my identity,” she explains. “I’ve been working since I was 15 years old and it keeps me going because even though you have Parkinson’s, I believe you have to participate in life.”
She was joined by Parkinson’s Association of Ireland board member Gary Boyle, who was diagnosed with the condition 10 years ago, at 44, while working in a senior role at a large multinational. For Gary, it was something that made him fear for his future: “[I thought to myself] I’m not going to be able to get another job, I’m stuck with the job I have. What the hell am I going to do?”.
Describing his diagnosis as “the time of my life when I was at my lowest”, he tells Elisabeth how the progression of his tremor was behind his decision to open up to his boss.
While his workplace was supportive of him, a year later his consultant noted that he was suffering from stress, which had adverse effects on his dopamine levels.
“I’ve made a clean break from work,” says Gary, “It’s worked out extremely well for me in terms of my gait and movement.
Turning to Elisabeth, he asks what she sees in the immediate future in terms of her working life.
She gives a response that will resonate with many across the Parkinson’s community. “I have decided to keep on going for as long as possible. But, of course, it’s harder today than it was six years ago”
Elisabeth Ildal - Public Speaker, Attorney of Law, , Founder of Cure4Parkinson, Cure4parkinsonEvent, DJ RadioParkes, Citycounsil Rudersdal.