Partnering Through Parkinson’s – Stephen and Laurine Croasdale

Proper footwear beneficial in Parkinson’s
15th August 2023
My World Parkinson’s Congress
15th August 2023

Partnering Through Parkinson’s – Stephen and Laurine Croasdale

Partnering Through Parkinson’s – Stephen and Laurine Croasdale

Stephen and Laurine Croasdale met in Paris in 1980, in an Alliance Francaise class. 

“I was in class when the teacher announced there was another ‘le petit kangurou’,” recalls Laurine, now 66. “Another little kangaroo.” 

“He took me over to sit with her,” recalls Stephen. “I’m not sure she was that impressed with my Amco jeans and flannelette shirt and desert boots! I was travelling around Europe and meant to meet up with friends in Greece by the end of the year.” 

“My father transferred from Perth to Paris for his work,” says Laurine. “He suggested I move to Paris.” 

Stephen’s friends ended up heading to Greece on their own as Stephen and Laurine’s relationship developed. 

“I think Laurine’s parents took pity on me,” says Stephen. “We ended up spending nearly three years in Paris and we married in London.” 

On their return to Australia they moved to Sydney, renting in Neutral Bay and Mosman while Stephen worked as a chef and Laurine freelanced in publishing. 

“Our son was born in 1990 and then our daughter 18 months later,” says Laurine. “We needed a bigger place and so we bought our house in Forestville. We love it here.” 

From 1996 Stephen had taken on teaching at TAFE, full-time for many years and eventually part-time. By 2015 he was struggling a little with tiredness and a croaky voice. 

“I’d always liked to be fit and do things like swimming,” says Stephen. “But I started to find I had all kinds of symptoms. I lost my sense of smell I but I assumed that was from when I had the flu. I was investigated for prostate issues. I had ringing in my ears, aches and pains, a frozen shoulder. I had a stress test done with a heart scan.” 

“When we were out walking up a hill one day I turned around and Stephen was stooped over and taking very short steps,” says Laurine. “A while later his arm seemed frozen on his left side. A friend noticed he had a tremor in his left hand.” 

“Last year after seeing the doctor I left with a referral to a neurologist,” says Stephen. “Although my doctor had told me not to worry, I looked at the referral and saw ‘possible Parkinson’s’. It was World Parkinson’s Day, and on the radio driving home John Watkins (former deputy premier of NSW) talking about his experience with Parkinson’s. My only impression of Parkinson’s was Muhammad Ali bloated and faltering on his fiftieth birthday. As soon as I got home, I googled the symptoms. 



“It was quite confronting when I got to see the neurologist. I asked him what I could do and he said there was no cure, it was just going to get worse. I kind of appreciated his honesty, but straight away I was thinking what would happen with Laurine and the kids?  

Driving home I had a lot of uncertainty; all those assumptions, all our plans, where was it going to go now? But straight away Laurine sprang into action. She found Parkinson’s NSW and their specialist nurses and we were able to get a lot more information.” 

“It was a bit of a process for me,” says Laurine. “It takes a while to absorb; what can we do to make this the best it can be? And eventually the realisation that I don’t have to sort it all out in two weeks. We joined the Support Groups. There was a counsellor there we could speak to, as well as meeting other people with Parkinson’s.” 

Stephen was encouraged to join a choir group to help his voice, see a speech pathologist and to become physically active again. 

“I was struggling with apathy,” he says. “But joining the Step Up for Parkinson’s (an activity-based fundraising campaign) was important because I set myself goals. Committing to exercising 31 days in a row was a big challenge, but I did it.  

“Since then I’ve continued to set goals. It might be just working in the garden. I can’t do things the way I used to, but it gets done. I’ve done more fitness training, with things like PD Warrior. A year and a half after my diagnosis I’m actually fitter than I was. 

“That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. Managing my Parkinson’s is pretty much a full-time job. Although I am going to volunteer giving cooking lessons to men at the Men’s Kitchen.” 

Laurine says Stephen puts as much effort into managing his Parkinson’s for his family as he does for himself. 

“He’s very motivated,” she says. “I don’t see myself as his carer. I do things for myself, too. Last year I signed up to become a guide with the Art Gallery of NSW; I love that. I take my mum out for a day once a week. I go walking with friends and then we have a coffee together. I also volunteer with the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation which promotes encouraging children to read.” 

Stephen and Laurine are still making plans for the future: there is debate as to whether they should downsize to a more manageable house, but there is also discussion about visiting their son who lives in New York, and Laurine’s 92-year-old aunt in the UK.  

“We are just getting on with our life,” says Laurine. “My advice for others with a new diagnosis is to take heart. It’s overwhelming at first, but there is a community there with support and empathy and advice and information. Parkinson’s NSW is hugely helpful and supportive.”