"By staying active I've fought the condition at every level": Grace's story

Grace is 79 and lives in Ryton, Gateshead, with her husband Ian. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2002. She shares her story of getting back into exercise after having knee surgery.

My Parkinson’s is complicated by severe osteoarthritis. I’ve had a hip replacement and three knee replacements. After the last operation, not only did I develop an infection, but I fell and broke my femur.

I had a metal rod inserted into my leg and I had to keep it straight for six months during recovery. Afterwards my mobility had deteriorated drastically.

I couldn’t move my legs, my grip had gone and I couldn’t twist my upper body. I ended up needing a wheelchair permanently.

I’ve always been an active person – I used to love cycling, and I always swam regularly. I even painted and played music to keep my fingers agile. By staying active I felt like I was fighting the condition at every level.

Over time I was able to lift my legs and was able to twist my body a little more.

I was really upset when I couldn’t swim anymore and I wasn’t doing any form of exercise. I had no idea how I was going to gain any form of mobility back.

I ended up talking to my Parkinson’s nurse, and they referred me to an exercise specialist through Parkinson’s UK.

I started attending weekly chair-based exercise classes, and my husband Ian came with me. The teacher would tailor exercises specifically to me and I would practice them at home.

Over time I was able to lift my legs and was able to twist my body a little more.

Unfortunately, since the pandemic, the classes have stopped. But I’ve still been practising at home until they’re able to start again.

Ian jokes that I’m now aiming for a half marathon instead of a full marathon. But really, I hope to stand up and be able to take a few steps again soon – that’s my aim.

Read more about staying active with complex symptoms of Parkinson's