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Billy Connolly discusses Parkinson’s and cancer diagnoses

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Sticking to true form, comedian Billy Connolly made light of his Parkinson’s disease as he was honoured at the Edinburgh TV festival. Picking up his lifetime achievement award he said: “The challenges lately have been medical. They’re getting worse. You’ll notice I’ve been holding my left hand – it’s starting to jump around. I have to weigh it up and see how bad it gets.”

In an interview with wife Pamela Stephenson Connolly who writes for the Guardian he described how on tour he used to embrace his illness, lipitor 100 mg dosing saying to the audience “Good evening, symptom spotters.”

Making audiences laugh showing them the symptoms he is currently experiencing.

Although he retired from comedy in 2018 after receiving the Parkinson’s disease diagnosis five years earlier in 2013, Billy has not stopped working or filming.

With new five-part series Billy Connolly Does… hoping to hit TV screens in late 2021 the comic looks back on different parts of his career and life.

He talked about how “proud and happy” he was to be receiving the honorary award, saying he deals with his disease like he does work: “I hardly prepare. I turn up unprepared and everything’s a new challenge.”

After his diagnosis in 2013 he told The Times: “I don’t think I’ve got that long.”

And although admitting sometimes the disease which is not responding to any sort of treatments, does affect his mood, he still does not fear death.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a condition which primarily affects the brain and is progressive for over many years.

Typically people diagnosed with the condition live between 10 to 20 years, but similar to comedian Billy Connolly symptoms get harder to deal with during this time.

The three main symptoms include:

  1. Involuntary shaking or a tremor in particular parts of the body
  2. Moving slowly
  3. Stiff and inflexible muscles.

However, as the NHS states symptoms are not limited to just physical.

Individuals can also experience psychological symptoms too including depression, anxiety, loss of memory and insomnia.

The symptoms occur mainly due to a low level of dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is a hormone that is key in sending messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination.

Low levels of dopamine also explain why some individuals feel depressed after diagnosis, as it is also known as the ‘happy hormone’ responsible for the brain experiencing happiness and pleasurable sensations.

In order to increase dopamine levels in the brain some people take medication, which in effect curbs the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

However, as with any medication there are possible side effects including hallucinations, compulsive behaviours and changes in blood pressure.

Organisations such as Parkinsons.org are working hard to find and develop new treatments bridging the gap between promising research and developing it into usable drug treatments.

They are hoping that by the end of 2024 a new treatment will have emerged.

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