Signs of Parkinson’s: Australian mother’s warning signs after struggles with pouring water led to ‘staggering’ diagnosis

In 2011, Australian Christine Jeyachandran traveled to Peru to teach English for 10 years.

But just a year into her decades-long deployment in the predominantly Spanish-speaking country, she noticed a tremor in her left hand.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: An Australian mother with Parkinson’s achieves a handstand.

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Jeyachandran didn’t think it was serious and endured the shaking for two years.

But in 2014, her left hand became weaker and she found it difficult to grasp objects.

“I had a pitcher of water that I was pouring and I was like, ‘Why am I so weak in this hand?'” she tells 7Life.

“My left hand started to sag.”

Christine Jeyachandran was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 37. Credit: FaviBejar/delivered

With her three young children in mind — twins Amelia and Annabelle and son Samuel, who were seven and four at the time — Jeyachandran went to see her Peruvian GP.

Confused about the cause of the weakness, her doctor referred her to a neurologist.

“Immediately after the exam, the neurologist said, ‘The moment you walked into the room, I knew you had Parkinson’s disease,'” she recalls in Spanish.

He explained that the mother’s left arm remained motionless and did not swing as she walked.

She was also told that her “foot hit the ground” as she walked, as she could not control how slowly her foot hit the ground.

The 37-year-old asked the doctor to repeat her diagnosis in English – hoping she misunderstood it.

But it didn’t change the result.

Jeyachandran had Parkinson’s disease, a progressive and degenerative neurological condition that affects a person’s control over their body movements.

The mother’s diagnosis has turned her world upside down, but she hasn’t let it hold her back. Credit: delivered

The diagnosis was “staggering”.

“I didn’t know much about Parkinson’s, but I knew it wasn’t good,” she says.

“Me and my husband David were in shock and we just cried – we didn’t really know what was coming next.

“It was very, very difficult and difficult to imagine what that would mean for our lives and how it would change our future.”


Over the next four years, as Jeyachandran continued to work in Peru, her symptoms worsened.

“I was struggling to walk, I dragged my left foot,” she explains.

When she first started exercising, she went to the gym but wasn’t sure what to do. Credit: Picasa/delivered

Once, at a children’s birthday party, a happy clown asked everyone to jump up and imitate his movements to a song.

As Jeyachandran tried to join in the fun, she found she could not move.

“I couldn’t do what the clown asked us to do,” she recalls.

“I was shocked that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t think I’d lost movement, but I did.”

Jeyachandran wanted to learn how to rope climb after seeing her daughters do it. Credit: Picasa/delivered

Jeyachandran was told exercise could help slow the progression of the debilitating disease.

So she looked for ways to regain control of her body and began “pushing” herself.

“We don’t know what our bodies are capable of,” she says.

“People with Parkinson’s are told it’s neurodegenerative and you’ll get worse.

“Nobody told me otherwise – until I met one or two people who said that where you are, you can get better.

“And that really inspired me to push harder.”

In 2018 she turned to intense exercise, with gymnastics as her main focus to improve her strength, balance and coordination.

And her children’s gymnastics coach, Jaime Huahuasonco, was the person who helped her achieve her goals.

Gymnastics has helped her build flexibility, strength and coordination. Credit: Picasa/delivered

“I told him I was very scared and he treated me gently at first and gradually increased the stress over time,” says Jeyachandran.

“I could never keep up with the class, but I just did my best and took inspiration from them.”

Jeyachandran has been working harder than she’s ever been in her life and says exercise has helped her stay physically fit while also helping her mental state.

“They say that exercise can actually be better than medication for depressed people,” she says.

“It definitely gives you a kick and it makes you happier.

“It’s hard work – I won’t say it was easy.

“My body ached every day after training and I was quite tired and napped a lot at first.”


Now aged 46, Jeyachandran returned to Australia in 2021 and says she’s “shocked” at how far she’s come.

“I walk better than five years ago – I’m more flexible,” she explains.

“I walk almost normally now. Most people don’t think I have Parkinson’s when I’m on medication.

“That’s pretty impressive for someone who’s supposed to be worse off.”

Mom can now do a handstand and achieve a big goal with it. Credit: delivered

She also achieved one of her biggest goals – doing a handstand – which inspired her to start a blog called Handstand for Parkinson’s.

Jeyachandran also documented her journey through a short film entitled Handstand for Parkinson’s Disease, which was a finalist for the 2019 World Parkinson’s Congress.

She continues to film her battle with Parkinson’s and shares the journey of other people with the disease.

And her 2023 film Ray for Hope was shortlisted for this year’s World Parkinson’s Congress in Barcelona in July.

message for others

Since returning to Sydney, Jeyachandran has not stopped spreading awareness about the disease and the importance that physical activity can play.

She also helps raise funds for Shake It Up, an organization that funds Parkinson’s research aimed at finding better treatments and finding a cure.

Jeyachandran also managed to try surfing. Credit: delivered

The mother says her current medications, which help her move, only “mask” the symptoms.

“Without medication, I would have trouble moving, I would have trouble pulling up my pants, I would have trouble carrying things and cooking and living a normal life,” she explains.

“(But) we need to have more drugs on the market to actually solve the problem.”

Her family supported her on her way. Credit: delivered

Jeyachandran is also a World Parkinson’s Congress Ambassador and is pursuing a Masters in Public Health.

She hopes to one day share her story in a TEDx talk.

In April, she hosts a Picnic 4 Parkinson’s with her friends and family as part of Shake It Up’s annual Break 4 Parkinson’s campaign to raise much-needed funds.

“We haven’t found a cure and we have to keep working because we don’t know how it will be in ten years,” she says.

“In the same way, I want to encourage people to exercise today to prevent the disease from getting worse.

“And people who don’t have Parkinson’s, by exercising today, can help ward off both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

Jeyachandran’s children were by her every step. Credit: delivered

David and her twins, now 15, and their son, now 12, help her whenever she needs it.

“They pull me with them when I sometimes have trouble walking,” she says.

“They get me stuff when I can’t get out of the chair quickly, when my meds aren’t working.

“Fortunately, I’m pretty good most of the time.”

Jeyachandran jumping with her twin daughters. Credit: delivered

Jeyachandran also continues her practice.

“It still hurts from time to time when I try—but I keep going because I know the benefits,” she says.

Jeyachandran is an ambassador for Shake It Up Australia’s Pause 4 Parkinson’s campaign, which encourages people to attend fundraising events/clinical trials or pledge a donation.

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High-tech medical breakthrough helping Parkinson’s patients. Signs of Parkinson’s: Australian mother’s warning signs after struggles with pouring water led to ‘staggering’ diagnosis

James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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