Grateful for Parkinson’s?

Grateful for Parkinson’s?

Yesterday I decided that I would be grateful for my Parkinson’s Disease. It was like turning a page in novel, or more like starting the next chapter.

PD is one of those maladies that creeps up in the story, quite unnoticed, until an unexpected fall on the sidewalk, or a missed pass on the sports field, that draws ones’ startled attention. You think, how can that have happened? I’ve done it with skill a thousand times, and now look what happened. And then memories of other events come into place in the puzzle, and someone says casually, have you seen the doctor about this?

And the doctor’s diagnostic skill, together with some strange tests, makes it clear that these are typical symptoms of that dread, progressive illness for which there is no cure. None.

The only thing that keeps this nightmare at bay is daily exercise, and three pills a day that keep the shaking of the hand somewhat reduced. And that’s it, I’m told by the kind physician who says that she will see me regularly to monitor the irresistible progress. More like regress, I say.

Now begins the daily internet search which only confirms the diagnosis and the prognosis. Yes, there is hope on the distant horizon and within ten years, the researchers say, there might be an effective treatment available.

Thanks a lot.

Within ten years of the diagnosis one can also expect the first signs of Parkinson’s Dementia, the literature says.

So, I am left with watching my slow decline, from walking cane, to walker, to electric mobility device. At least I have a choice: order a black walker, or grey, or red. I choose a bright red. When the time for the escooter arrives, I insist on fire-engine red, with brake lights, turn signals, and bright running lights. At least I plan to do this with some style.

But the symptoms keep their own relentless timetable and I become discouraged. Family and friends are also relentless – in their kindness, and I am immensely thankful.

Then comes a turning, a new chapter, and I decide, very deliberately, to accept this condition. Then yesterday came the decision to be grateful for it.

Something changes. This is no longer a handicap, but a normal state. It is part of the aging process and a reminder, every day, that the final chapter is writing itself. It is an exciting novel and I have the privilege of making this chapter, as much as possible, a happy one.

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