Billy Connolly has issued a heartbreaking update on his Parkinson’s disease, revealing it has heavily impacted his ability to play musical instruments.
The 78-year-old comedy star has spoken frankly about his condition, and recently said that his Parkinson’s disease makes his hands shake so much that his handwriting is illegible.
The Scottish entertainer was speaking on Radio 4 this morning, and said: “I love the banjo, I can’t play it anymore which is a shame”.
Asked whether this was because of his Parkinson’s he said: “Yes, it has knackered by banjo playing, and guitar, and everything else.”
He added: “I can’t yodel – snatched away from me.”
Mr Connolly recalled he first learnt he had the condition, after someone came up to him at a hotel.
He said he left the hotel to go to a store, and on the way back, he tripped on the pavement.
He added: “I got into the lobby of the hotel, and there was a crowd of people, young people with an older guy.” When the older person asked for a word, Mr Connolly was intrigued.
The man said: “I have been watching you come in and out, and you have the gait of a person with Parkinson’s, I would see my doctor if I was you.”
The comedian recalled that the man was a Parkinson’s specialist.
“The rest is history,” the comedian added.
He said: “I thought I was walking perfectly normally, as I still do, but I was wobbling,”. He explained he goes to the gym on a fairly regular basis, which “makes me walk better”.
Indeed, Parkinson’s disease can affect the gait, or the way a person walks.
The changes in gait may be called Parkinson’s gait or Parkinsonian gait.
Nonetheless, there are many different symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
The NHS says: “But the order in which these develop and their severity is different for each individual”.
There are three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that affect physical movement.
These include a tremor, and “shaking, which usually begins in the hand or arm and is more likely to occur when the limb is relaxed and resting.”
The NHS says people also experience slowness of movement.
“Physical movements are much slower than normal, which can make everyday tasks difficult and result in a distinctive slow, shuffling walk with very small steps,” it adds.
The health service also says some people may experience muscle stiffness.
This stiffness and tension in the muscles, “can make it difficult to move around and make facial expressions, and can result in painful muscle cramps.”
These main symptoms are sometimes referred to by doctors as parkinsonism as there can be causes other than Parkinson’s disease.
You should aim to see your GP if you’re concerned you may have symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.