Chopsticks presented me with an amusing reminder of how Parkinson’s is going to become a significant part of my life this week. Here I was in the swanky new Nobu hotel in London for a work conference. It kicked off with a bento box lunch & miso soup, sat at a fairly tight for space conference table, amongst mostly strangers and armed with chopsticks and loaded with early onset Parkinson’s. Now for the most part my tremor is not visible but with an elevated stress level, it appears from nowhere. I did alright to disguise it and cope with the intricacies of using my chopsticks on a slippery and flaky black cod fillet ( a big hit on Nobu’s menu) – my answer…..down in one! Well that was pretty much my strategy, using the chopsticks as effiently as I could and minimising the number of pick ups I needed to do. I laughed at myself , because obviously I  could picture what this may end up looking like …….a long chase for a prawn or piece of tuna sashimi with a overly shaky hand and then missing my mouth.  A typical Englishman’s attempt to prove his exotic and well travelled self, insisting on using chopsticks with dogged determination. The obvious answer for me in the future – just ask for a spoon and be proud and done with it!

Chopsticks have been used for over 5000 years, they must be one of the not so obvious of inventions (or moreover it’s my cultural reliance on knife and fork 🙂) but man has become accomplished and highly adept at using them! Even catching flies with them….if your Mr Miyagi! Back to my point, the brain is an ingenious thing and I wonder if I can train my left hand to use chopsticks or shave or clean my teeth, whilst it is still relatively unimpaired from my Parkinson’s. At least I could then outmanoeuvre the symptoms in my right with medication and being ambidextrous……just a thought!

[Postscript this little note was recorded back in 2018. Updating it now, 5 years later, I can still use chopsticks pretty much as well as I ever could . A testament to how good Sinemet can be, and I only ever use them when I am ‘on’. However, I have given over to use a spoon and fork for the last few morsels in a plate of noodles, something which I never did. As to switching to my left arm as the dominant one, subtly that has happened and becoming more so. I still struggle to use it to shave though! An interesting point on teeth cleaning to demonstrate the loss of fine motor dexterity. The required fine movements to manipulate the toothbrush are really tricky first thing in the morning , before I rebuild the Sinemet in my system. It is a daily reminder to me. However, I move my head a lot more instead, to get the movement required around the tooth brush. Another point of adapting to a new normal!]

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