In 1998 I was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition called Parkinson’s Disease. It has affected my life profoundly and changed me in many ways, and although my voice is affected, I can still sing. I am very thankful for this, since I so love to sing and connect with people through music.
It’s been an adjustment for me to go out on stage when I’m having dyskinesias (abnormal, involuntary movements), and I’m often slow and stiff and off balance. But my fans and friends have encouraged me to keep singing.
As I’ve had to give up playing my instruments (whistle, guitar, dulcimer), I owe the world to those musical friends who have stood beside me and supported me with their smiles and their playing, and the reassurance that they can take over for me if my symptoms make it impossible for me to get through a performance.
Sometimes people ask what they can do to help.
First, I would ask that you teach yourself a bit about Parkinson’s so you might understand it. Knowledge and understanding can help break down the wall of loneliness that keeps so many of us who are living with PD hidden and isolated.
There is much information about PD available on the internet. I have started a PD Notebook in the Grace Notes section of this website.
There are a number of organizations supporting Parkinson’s research, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Parkinson’s Action Network, and others.
Video Below: Grace Griffith with Mark Cowan on guitar performs at the World Parkinson Congress 2010 opening Ceremony in Glasgow.