Billy Connolly shares health update on Parkinson’s disease: ‘Every day it gets stranger and more different’

Billy Connolly shares health update on Parkinson’s disease: ‘Every day it gets stranger and more different’

Billy Connolly has said that every day spent living with Parkinson’s disease “gets stranger”, as he shared an update on his health.

The Scottish actor, 80, has been living with the condition since 2013, and said that the symptoms and lifestyle impacts of the disease often “creep up” on him.

Parkinson’s is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and co-ordination. Often, the disease can become more severe over time.

“Every day it gets stranger and more different,” the retired stand-up comedian told The Times.

Connolly said that his newfound love for making drawings, painting and sculptures has helped him navigate the mental health toll of living with the condition.

“I don’t know how I would have coped without drawing. It’s taken me out of the scene and put me somewhere else, where I can survey it from a different angle,” he said.

“Art has made my life magical at a time when I thought it would be unbearable.”

It’s been a decade since Connolly received his Parkinson’s diagnosis. The comedian was walking through the lobby of a Los Angeles hotel in 2013 when a fellow guest, a doctor, stopped him and said he shows physical signs of Parkinsons. This prompted Connolly to visit his doctor.

Billy Connolly photographed in 2016 (Getty Images)
Billy Connolly photographed in 2016 (Getty Images)

“I’ll never forget what he said: ‘You have the gait of a Parkinson’s man,’” Connolly told the publication.

According to Parkinson’s UK, Bradykinesia, which is a common condition among people with Parkinson’s, means slowness and a reduced range of movement when walking. It can make your steps smaller and it can take more time and effort to get around.

When Connolly received his official diagnosis, he was also diagnosed with prostate cancer and gallstones in the same week.

“It was a helluva week,” he said. “It got funny. My daughter Scarlett was with me in the ambulance on the way to the gallbladder surgery through Manhattan. The sirens were going – nee-naw nee-naw – and she said to me, ‘Is this your first Caribbean cruise?’ That’s a line I always said to her to make her laugh when her surroundings were awkward or boring.”

During an interview published in September, it was revealed that Connolly had suffered “a couple of serious falls” and once broke his hip as a result of deteriorating balance. He no longer drives.

Despite these growing physical challenges, the What We Did on Our Holiday star maintains a positive outlook on his health. In his memoir, Rambling Man: Life on the Road, which was released earlier this year, Connolly clarified that he doesn’t feel “close to death”.

“You see, reports of my recent demise have been greatly exaggerated,” he stated in an extract shared with The Telegraph.

“There was a week a few years ago where on Monday I got hearing aids, Tuesday I got pills for heartburn, and Wednesday I received news that I had prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease. But despite all that, I never ever felt close to dying.”

Rambling Man: Life on the Road is available now.