Parkinson's: Not just an older person's condition

5 January 2023

Irena 2

Irena's Story

Irena is 38, a mother of two young children and she lives with Parkinson’s.

Having been diagnosed three years ago following the birth of her second child and feeling consumed by debilitating post-natal depression and anxiety, Irena said in those ‘dark days’ everything just stopped.

“In the early days, I felt like I couldn’t cope and when we moved back to WA from the Czech Republic, I linked in with Parkinson’s WA to connect with other people and the community, and to seek support and local advice,” she said.

Irena said she made a decision to engage the Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist (PNS) service, which is based out of Nedlands on the grounds of the QEII Medical Centre. She said initially she was feeling rather hesitant about it.

“At first I thought I didn’t need the Nursing Service – I’m not 80-years-old after all,” she said with a cheeky smile.

“It was then I realised how much my life had changed and how I lived, was different now. The nurses have been such a wonderful support. They provide such good advice and in the comfort of my own home.”

Irena keeps busy with her two young boys, aged 3 and 8. She explained with a knowing gaze, that parenting had changed significantly since the Parkinson’s diagnosis.

“Preparing lunches and getting everyone ready is hard when I’m having a bad day, but having said that, I also appreciate every single moment I spend with my boys. When I’m present with them, it’s special and I celebrate the little things more,” she said.

Irena said she likes to keep very fit and uses nutrition, positive thinking, meditation and exercise to help manage her symptoms, including her mental health.

“Parkinson’s made me realise I am not invincible. I have good days and bad days. On most days, the left side of my body is affected. It is slow and becomes quite stiff,” she said.

Things have changed a lot since diagnosis and becoming socially connected to her community has become increasingly more challenging, Irena explained.

PNS Rachel Marshall said prioritising self-care is particularly important when you have young children and even more so when you are living with Parkinson’s, in addition to the daily challenges of parenting.

“Sometimes it’s hard because that self-care is so individual to the person, and we don’t have all the answers, but we can meet you on your journey and do whatever we can to assist and support,” she said.

“We can be that link between the client and the Neurologist. It’s challenging to see young people unable to make connections with others living with the condition.”

Irena said having Rachel as a support in her life had changed so much for her.

“It’s having that human side, that is governed by kindness and empathy. Rachel is an experienced, empathic, lovely woman who is not just here for me, but provides me with useful information whenever I need it. It’s good to know there’s the PNS service supporting me at every stage of my journey.”

Irena said despite being diagnosed at such an early age, having Parkinson’s was not the worst thing she could have.

“It’s not that bad – I can see, I can feel, I can walk, I can cry, I can laugh – even in the neurological sphere of things, it’s not the worst condition I could have been diagnosed with,” she said.

By telling her story, Irena hopes she can engage others in the conversation about neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, especially in the hope that other young people can connect with her journey.

Contact the Parkinson’s WA office on (08) 6457 7373 or or visit the website for more information.