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Near-drowning in Parkinson’s disease: common or uncommon?
  1. Robert Rutherford1,
  2. Richard A Walsh2,3
  1. 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, University Hospital Galway, Galway, Ireland
  2. 2Neurology, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3Academic Unit of Neurology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Rutherford, University Hospital Galway, Galway, Ireland; bob55rutherford{at}gmail.com

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I am a 56-year-old respiratory consultant with a 10-year history of Parkinson’s disease. I had a deep brain stimulator inserted in October 2020. I had not swum since my stimulator had been inserted although before then I had been a regular summer sea swimmer of average ability. I started sea plunging in February 2022 and noticed mild difficulty even treading water. In August 2022, I went for a lake swim of roughly 50 m. I had taken L-dopa/carbidopa 100 mg/25 mg on an empty stomach about 90 min before. Thirty metres from shore, my arm muscles became extremely fatigued. Very quickly, I realised I was on the verge of drowning. My father suddenly appeared at the shore, and I roared to him, ‘Daddy I’m drowning’. The infantile use of the word ‘Daddy’ was to make him realise that I was not joking and, despite my age, an existential cry to my father to save me. A young man then appeared and helped me out. Afterwards, I was so weak and breathless that I lay prostrate on the ground for 5 min before being able to get up. ‘Never bleed in front of the men’—so when I got back to the house, I had a good cry.

Near-drowning is a reported complication of Parkinson’s disease. A 2018 survey in Portugal and the UK showed that 88% of 309 patients with Parkinson’s disease, all previously capable swimmers, thought their swimming had significantly deteriorated. …

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Footnotes

  • Contributors I am the patient and I wrote the case report. We both conceived the idea of writing the report. RAW- edited my case report and then wrote his commentary piece. We both chose the references.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Ralph Gregory, Poole, UK.

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