A Parkinson’s sufferer whose muscles dramatically stiffen as a result of the disease has turned her condition into an art-form – by becoming a human statue.
Mum-of-four Nicky Pywell was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease aged just 29 forcing her to give up her career as a gardener.
The neurological condition means that without medication Nicky’s muscles and joints contract and tighten – and she is unable to move.
But undeterred, courageous Nicky decided not to let the debilitating disease get in her way and used her newly found talent to pose as a living statue.
She now raises money for charity by doing a Marilyn Monroe impersonation in her home town of Coalville, Leics., for two hours at a time.
Brave Nicky now makes up to £400-a-time for Parkinson’s UK with her popular street performances.
Nicky, 35, said: “I become a living statue for two-and-a-half hours.
“I get stiff, all my muscles get rigid and I’m unable to move if I don’t have my medication.
“It was the idea of being stiff that led to being a statue. I do take little breaks but every time I am out on the platform I don’t move.
“I raised about #390 the first time. That was taken from sponsorships beforehand as well as people giving me some on the day.
“I gave an envelope to everyone I met that week telling them about myself and what I was doing.
“I love Marilyn Monroe – she was a good actress and beautiful and glamorous.
“I find it really fun, I enjoy it and people say I look like her.”
Nicky first sought her GP’s advice after she thought she had pulled a muscle while using a hedge trimmer nine years ago.
As time went on her left arm began to shake and drag but it took another three years and four neurologists to diagnose Nicky because doctors thought she was too young to suffer from Parkinsons.
She added: “I was working as a self taught and self-employed gardener which I loved.
“This particular day I was using a hedge trimmer and I thought I had just pulled a muscle. My left arm felt stiff.
“I went to a walk in clinic and they gave me anti-inflammatory medicine, but it didn’t go away.
“Then my left arm began to shake, and my left leg began to drag so much that it affected my driving.
“Over the next three years I saw three or four different neurologists. None of them thought it could be Parkinson’s because I was so young.
“Eventually my new GP sent me to a different neurologist at Leicester General Hospital.
“They admitted me to the ward, and Parkinson’s was finally diagnosed.
“The medication they put me on worked very quickly and I was able to walk out of hospital.
“I felt that things were finally getting under control, with the help of my Parkinson’s nurse.
“Giving up my gardening career was one of the hardest things for me. Now, I’m taking each day as it comes.
“People aren’t aware that I’ve got it unless I tell them and you get funny looks from people who make assumptions.
“It’s much more likely that people think you’re drunk or taking drugs.
“For me to accept I’ve got Parkinson’s it was easier for me if I told the world rather than tell people one by one.
“It’s something I’ve learned to live with and not to be ashamed of.”