Podcast: What’s it like managing your working life with Parkinson’s?


Author: Simge Eva DoganPublished: 6 August 2019

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In the third episode of our Parkinson’s Life podcast series, Danish politician Elisabeth Ildal and Irish Parkinson’s advocate Gary Boyle share their honest experiences of navigating the workplace, from coming out the “Parkinson’s closet” to a “need to participate in life”

Five months before being elected as a city council member in Denmark, Elisabeth Ildal was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s. She recalls: “I was terrified of what would happen if anybody knew.”

Appearing on episode three of the Parkinson’s Life podcast, the politician, Parkinson’s advocate and blogger discusses how she feared the diagnosis would affect her working life. “Working for me is a big part of my identity,” she explains. “I’ve been working since I was 15 years old and it keeps me going because even though you have Parkinson’s, I believe you have to participate in life.”

Gary Boyle, who appears on the podcast with Elisabeth, who was diagnosed with the condition 10 years ago, at 44, while working in a senior role at a large multinational. He describes his diagnosis as “the time of my life when I was at my lowest”.

“[I thought to myself] I’m not going to be able to get another job, I’m stuck with the job I have. What the hell am I going to do?”.

Elisabeth Ildal Denmark

Elisabeth Ildal is a city council member in Denmark.

After five years of hiding his Parkinson’s symptoms, he finally opened up to his boss – but by then the stress of work was taking its toll.

“I’ve made a clean break from work,” says Gary, “It’s worked out extremely well for me in terms of my gait and movement.”

Asked by Gary how she views her future in terms of her working life, Elisabeth says: “I have decided to keep on going for as long as possible. But, of course, it’s harder today than it was six years ago”.

Gary Boyle

Gary Boyle is a Parkinson’s Association of Ireland board member.

Episode Three of the Parkinson’s Life podcast, “Parkinson’s and Work”, is available now on SoundCloud, iTunes and YouTube. Please rate and review the episode to help others find us – and if you have feedback, or ideas for future episodes, do get in touch at editor@parkinsonslife.eu to share your thoughts.

For more information on Parkinson’s and work please visit the EPDA website.

Read more:

Podcast: What’s it like caring for someone with Parkinson’s?

Podcast: What’s it like parenting with Parkinson’s?

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