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Being open about illness helped Jussi Kivimäki cope with Parkinson’s disease


Jussi Kivimäki wrote a monologue about the illness he was diagnosed with 15 years ago.

JUSSI KIVIMÄKI was only 49 when he was given a diagnosis that turned his life upside down. His symptoms that began as obscure aches and pains in his leg were found to be caused by Parkinson’s disease.

To start with, Kivimäki had only complained about the strange sensations to his colleague who had advised him to make a doctor’s appointment. On a work trip to Central Finland, Kivimäki understood that something was wrong when his hands felt so stiff and clumsy he could not hold a pen properly.

After extensive examinations, Kivimäki’s doctor diagnosed Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder, which can cause a wide range of symptoms with no two people affected in the same way. Tremors are among the most common symptoms. In Finland, there are around 10,000 patients with Parkinson’s disease.

“The disorder is incurable and progressive. Hearing something like that will hit even the toughest of guys hard,” says Kivimäki.

Kivimäki’s diagnosis came as a surprise not only to him but also to the doctor.

“When the disease started manifesting itself, I was far from a typical case. I was under 50, in good shape and physically active.”

Now, at the age of 64, around fifteen years after learning about the illness, Kivimäki feels well.

The illness has affected Kivimäki’s speech and movements but an operation performed last autumn has helped with the symptoms. After the operation, he has received electrical stimulation to the brain area affected by the disease.

Kivimäki’s mobility had been seriously affected but thanks to the treatment it has almost bounced back to what it used to be.

“I have coped well with the illness because it has been gentle with me. Fifteen years is a long time with Parkinson’s disease.”

Expressing his experiences

In 2010, Kivimäki published a book called Minä, Parkinson ja Toyota (Me, Parkinson and Toyota), describing his experiences with the disease and last autumn his play Mr. Parkinson, a monologue, had its premiere.

Kivimäki embarked on the play project at the request of Martti Rautio, a friend and a fellow Parkinson’s sufferer. The monologue is performed by an actor who has retired from the Jyväskylä City Theatre, Mikko Kauranen.

“To start with, I only wrote a couple of pages, but Rautio encouraged me to carry on with the project. We showed the text to Kauranen, who thought it could be performed,” explains Kivimäki.


Read the rest of the article at http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/lifestyle/10839-being-open-about-illness-helped-jussi-kivimaeki-cope-with-parkinson-s-disease.html

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