Monique Jerome, Gra Gra's Story, Oil on canvas, 2020
Monique Jerome | Student Reflection
G leads a very rich and inspiring life amongst the Ballina community. Although he is retired now, he was an accountant at a bustling, historic local Sawmill. He also had a successful prawn trawling business, has written and published a novel and in his retirement started designing and building beautiful timber furniture for his family and the community. G was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and has been successfully managing it with the assistance of Ballina Hospital.
G has always been drawn to the ocean, Shaw’s Bay in particular. He has a natural affinity with the ocean and speaks fondly of regularly going crabbing, snorkelling, fishing and walking on the beach daily with his partner and their family. My oil painting in response to G’s story captures the ocean environment that brought him so much pleasure before the onset of Parkinson’s.
Patient Story | 'Gra Gra'
When I was about 50 years old, my wife noticed changes in me. At 77 years, I was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It’s been a life-changing thing - it affects my whole family. I was a good golfer and enjoyed making furniture. Slowly, I saw those things dwindle away. I don’t know why I got it - it’s not in the family.
Ten years after diagnosis, my body did not tolerate the medications that I was taking. I started to have delusions. I was seeing things differently and not feeling like my normal self. I went to hospital and my medications were revised.
I am now better than I was, but not as good as I would like to be. As it gets worse, you have to let go. Socially, it’s isolating not being able to play golf like I used to do. Even though I have Parkinson’s, I am mentally very strong. I am glad I went to hospital and I met some nice people.
Advice to others: “You have to learn humility and you have to work with doctors (even though I wanted to escape!)”
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder with a predilection in the elderly. It often manifests with tremor, stiffness, slowness in initiating movement and problems walking. In addition, ‘non-motor’ symptoms can include constipation, a loss of smell, mood and cognitive issues. It can affect every individual differently. To learn more, visit
Parkinson’s Australia www.parkinsons.org.au