Name: David Thurston
Home: Phuket, Thailand
Parkinson's Status: Patient
Diagnosed: 1998
Major Symptoms: Stiffness, balance and slowness

David Thurston
Nick Baggarly, Sue Meade, and David Thurston

David Thurston is originally from England, but somewhere along the way he picked up an interest in the Far East, packed his bags for Peking to study Chinese, and finally ended up in Hong Kong as a journalist/photographer, where he concentrated his efforts primarily on business portraits.

David noticed the first signs of his of Parkinsonís Disease while typing; his left hand was always a bit behind his right. The effects continued, and he soon felt similar effects while dancing. It wasnít as easy to keep the beat, because his left side was not following his commands as precisely as it used to. As he recalls, he also began having problems with his shoulder freezing. Although doctors told him that this had nothing to do with his other symptoms, David wasnít convinced. He was finally diagnosed with Parkinsonís disease five years ago.

Even then, David was no stranger to Parkinsonís; his mother had the Disease. He also recalls a memory of a pub owner he knew who had Parkinsonís Disease. This man had such a tremor that people thought he was mentally demented. This is one thing that David would like the public to know about Parkinsonís disease: just because people shake doesnít mean they are crazy.

David moved to Phuket, Thailand, in 1998 and went into semi-retirement. He wanted to leave the hustle and bustle of big-city life and just take life a bit easier. Phuket, Thailand, is definitely a place where you can slow down your lifestyle and enjoy the ocean breezes.

David is able to relate to the LONGITUDE Expedition team, not only because he is a Land Rover enthusiast who used to own a 1963 Land Rover station wagon, but because, like the expedition, he is dependent upon technology.

ďIf it wasnít for the Internet, I wouldnít have moved here,Ē he said. ďThe Internet is my lifeline of medical research. I have learned 80-90% of what I know about Parkinsonís from the Net.Ē

In fact, David became familiar with a friend of Drive Around the World through the Internet. Through list serves, David knows of Murray Charters, who has contributed much to the Drive Around the World project by donating his time to make the Parkinsonís Community aware of the project.

Parkinsonís disease is slowly taking its toll in Davidís life. Until recently, he could walk 18 holes of golf, but now life in Thailand, with its snakes, hills, and humidity, is making exercising more difficult. Although he can get all the medication he needs here, the treatment is just not the same. Soon he will be moving back to Britain to seek better treatment, the comforts of modern medicine, and, more importantly, supportive friends and family.

I asked him if has ever though about using his journalistic and photographic skills to promote Parkinsonís Disease awareness and moving the torch closer to a cure. He pondered for a moment and asked the question of who would be the audience. I guess the hard question is, ďHow can we get people who arenít personally affected by Parkinsonís Disease to care?Ē Good question. Any answer?

As he was leaving, David said that he had never had a conversation with someone about Parkinsonís since he was diagnosed.