Shaun Slicker is one of the youngest people to be diagnosed with the disease, having first. SHAUN Slicker was just 20 when he noticed his foot twitching while relaxing on the sofa.
SHAUN Slicker was just 20 when he noticed his foot twitching while relaxing on the sofa.
A keen rugby player, he put it down to a trapped nerve.
A week later, that twitch had moved to his hand - and this time, he wrote it off as part of his hangover after a night out.
Little did the now 33-year-old know that these were the early signs of Parkinson's disease - a condition normally associated with much older people.
"At the time, I was a typical teenager, going out to the pub every weekend so I thought maybe it was shaking after having one too many beers," Shaun, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, told media.
"Then I went to a chiropodist to have a corn removed from my foot and they said that the shaking in my foot wasn't anything to do with a trapped nerve.
"They referred me to a neurologist at Oldham Royal Hospital and they tested me. They said I’d be in for four days - I was in for four weeks.
"They couldn’t work out what was wrong with me because I was so young."
After dozens of scans, injections and blood tests, docs finally diagnosed Shaun with Parkinson's at just 23.
"It took them three years from me having the first symptoms to being diagnosed," he remembered.
"If I’m honest, I was more relieved that I had Parkinson’s. After three years of tests, it could have been something a lot worse.
"It was more the suspense of not knowing what was going on with my body, whether it’d kill me - that was hardest.
"For three years, I didn’t know what was taking a toll on my life.
Shaun's great-uncle had the condition and as a result it was something he always associated with being old.
He said that his mum had thought that Shaun might have had Parkinson's because she recognised the same signs.
But he's not letting his condition get in the way of his life.
One of the things Parkinson's can cause is insomnia, and as a way of dealing with restless nights and depression, Shaun decided to join his local 24-hour PureGym.
Since joining up in December 2015, he's lost 11st and has become super-buff.
It's not just about the aesthetics for Shaun - the gym's given him back a bit of his old sense of self.
"As soon as I saw the change, I started eating clean and started noticing that the symptoms were either being kept at bay or were improving.
"When I first walked in there, I’d be all stiff and sore from the condition but I’d come out feeling like I didn't have Parkinson's.
"It gets me out of the house it gives me something to look forward to. Before I joined the gym I could hardly walk - it's given me a bit of mobility back.
"If I didn't go to the gym, my body would probably seize up for good."
Because of his balance issues, he doesn't do much standing up - using resistance machines and sitting down to do weights instead.
And he said that when he goes into the gym, he feels like any other guy.
"When people realise I've got it, they're quite shocked - that's why I do a lot of work to explain that you don't have to be elderly or have to shake to have it," he said.
"I don't shake - I'm more the stiff side. I shuffle when I walk. Anyone can have Parkinson's at any age.
"Eighty per cent of the people at the gym wouldn't even know that I have Parkinson's; they'd think I just had sore legs due to the fact that I limp.
"But over time, I've told them. They're not the kinds of people who would mollycoddle me - they just get over it."
And another thing that keeps Shaun going is getting tattoos.
He estimates that he's now 80 per cent covered in ink - from his ankles to his ears.
Most of them are scripts which he says are like a journal of his life.
"It's like I'm advertising the fact that I have Parkinson's," he says.
"Tattoos and the gym are better than medication. They give me something to look forward to and I won't let my condition beat me.
"I've always been stubborn. Obviously, I know that it's a progressive condition and I know that it'll get worse but until that day comes, I'll keep on fighting it.
"The way I look at it is it’s a life sentence but it’s not a death sentence. Going to the gym, getting tattooed and my kids are the only reason I wake up every day and keep fighting this disease.
"I don’t think about the future, I live my life one second at a time.
"I don’t know what I’ll be like in ten years because I don’t want to know what I’ll be like in ten years. I’ll just deal with it as it comes."