David ‘Kid’ Jensen is suffering from Parkinson’s disease
“I wish I had done it sooner,” says the 67-year-old broadcasting legend, who delayed disclosing his illness to all but family and close friends for fear that “people might think less of me”.
Instead the former Radio 1 DJ, who earned the moniker “Kid” early in his career due to his boyish looks, was greeted with such an overwhelming outpouring of support that he now wonders why he spent so long hiding his condition from others.
“There has been this tremendous sense of relief since I announced it,” says David, who lives in Surrey with his wife Gudrun, 65, and has three children and seven grandchildren. It seemed to generate the most remarkable response. Within a few days my email inbox was flooded with no fewer than 56,000 messages of support.
“Shop assistants now ask me how I am and friends have revealed they too have been suffering in silence with Parkinson’s. Far from being rejected or spurned I suddenly feel as if I am part of a big community.”
‘Kid’ Jensen has been fighting the disease in private for five years
I felt devastated. I didn’t know that much about Parkinson’s, other than it gave you the shakes.
David ‘Kid’ Jensen
David, who began his broadcasting career with Radio Luxembourg after moving from Canada in the 1960s, first realised something was wrong in 2012 when he noticed he was dragging his feet when walking.
But since he felt otherwise fine, the DJ ignored the problem for the next six months despite pleas from Gudrun and friends to seek medical help.
When he finally he did see a doctor, the diagnosis was shattering. “I felt devastated. I didn’t know that much about Parkinson’s, other than it gave you the shakes.
“This was already starting to affect me. For example, if I was pouring wine at a dinner party I would often end up spilling it.”
Jensen was a DJ and broadcaster who presented shows like Top of the Pops
Parkinson’s disease affects about 145,000 people in the UK – roughly one in every 350 adults. On average a new case is diagnosed every 30 minutes. Common symptoms include tremors, slow movement and episodes of “freezing” or rigidity.
The disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the substantia nigra, an area in the middle of the brain that is involved in the control of movement, as well as feelings of reward and addiction.
The nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine, which acts as a messenger between the brain and the nervous system, helping to control body movements.
If these nerve cells become damaged or die the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced and movements become slow and abnormal. Only when 80 per cent of the nerve cells in the brain have been lost will the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear and gradually become more severe.
The charity Parkinson’s UK is campaigning for greater public awareness of the signs of the illness. It says one in four sufferers has had their symptoms mistaken for drunkenness.
In one recent example a man was asked by staff to leave a shop because they thought he was acting suspiciously. In fact he was a Parkinson’s patient whose condition had caused him to temporarily “freeze”.
As a result, the charity claims, more than a third of people in the UK with the illness feel the need to hide their symptoms or lie about having the condition. David says he kept it quiet because he was worried about the impact on his career. He still works in local radio.
“Obviously Gudrun knew and the children had to be told too,” he says. “They were initially extremely upset but quickly researched everything they could about the disease and how to live with it.
“Beyond that I only told a few very close friends, people I knew I could trust to not tell others. I was concerned about how it would affect my work.”
1 of 9
But after seeing others in the public eye, such as fellow broadcaster and Sky Sports TV presenter Dave Clark, talk openly about their own battles with the neurological disease, David began to change his mind.
“I just started to feel that I was living a bit of a lie and not being wholeheartedly honest with people I work with or many of my friends. And the reaction was amazing. My employers made it clear there would still be a job for me no matter what.
“It means I no longer have to sneak off at work to take my medication, which I need every four hours. There’s also been a real connection with other sufferers.
The other day I was crossing a car park and another man was heading towards me quite slowly, clearly another Parkinson’s sufferer. We were both shaking and as we passed we just looked at each other and smiled.”
For now David refuses to let his illness stop him living as normal a life as possible. He often needs help doing up buttons or cufflinks and cannot swim as much as he used to since co-ordinating movement is more difficult. But he still loves walking the family dog with Gudrun.
He views “coming out” as a vital part of publicly accepting his condition.
“I see this very much as a healing exercise,” he says. “If I can still enjoy life with Parkinson’s disease then hopefully so can others as well.”
David Jensen supports the charity Parkinson’s UK. Tomorrow is World Parkinson’s Day and the charity is working on an international campaign to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges people with the condition face. Visit parkinsons.org.uk for more details.
Read more here: Daily Express :: Health Feedhappy wheels
Dec 19, 2018 0As the heated social media feud continues to ignite between Drake and Kanye West, TMZ caught up with singer Tyrese to get his thoughts. His response? A simple caution for the rappers who happen to be neighbors: “Take it from me, handling sh*t on social media when you’re beefing with...
Dec 19, 2018 03 hours ago A lot has been said about Rami Malek putting in fake teeth and doing quite a lot to look and sound like Freddie Mercury on the stage. At one point during filming, Freddy Mercury’s sister Kashmira, whom he affectionately calls Kash in the movie, was able to see Malek in full...
Dec 18, 2018 0
Dec 19, 2018 0CBD Beauty Products: What You Need to Know – Health...
Dec 19, 2018 0I Took Gwyneth Paltrow’s Healthy Living Advice for a...
Dec 18, 2018 0A corporate gift is not merely a gift but an...
Dec 18, 2018 0While we love a good splurge on luxe eye cream or...
Dec 19, 2018 0PARIS — Emmanuel Macron’s presidency was battling a...
Dec 19, 2018 0KHOKHA, Yemen — The first sign of trouble was the...
Dec 18, 2018 0SEOUL, South Korea — K-pop. Cheating on exams. Even...
Dec 18, 2018 0BEIJING — Facing deepening tensions abroad and anxieties...
Dec 18, 2018 0PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Barely a month after an...
Dec 18, 2018 0MOSCOW — Told that rap and hip-hop have grown wildly...
Dec 18, 2018 0This year’s McKinsey & Company retreat in China was...
Dec 17, 2018 0SINGAPORE — Across the British Empire, the laws banning...