I’m a huge fan of Jim Carrey’s “Liar, Liar,” about a workaholic attorney who loses his ability to … well… massage the truth… and in so doing becomes a better person and father. I’m particularly fond of Carrey’s Claw routine when his arm is possessed by a loving ‘Tickle Monster’. My husband and I enjoyed assuming this character when our tykes were younger.
But today I look at ‘The Claw’ differently. Today I stare at my claw and imagine Jim Carrey fighting a demon determined to rule his hand. Today I stare at my hand as if it’s a Demon Claw incapable of stillness
I dream I am holding both hands still, mastering all the balance exercises during workouts with my lithe, seemingly ageless body. In reality I wake and turn my attention back to The Claw – which holds a prescription bottle
“Can I get the prescription and stare at it for a while?” I ask digesting this next phase.
“Yes, with my approval,” my brilliant and kind doctor responds
PD is a clinical diagnosis. At each visit, patients go through a series of exercises and are judged on how we perform them. It’s called an UPDRS scale and I was glad to hear that my performance last week was no worse than it was seven months ago. This is good. I believe that my being stable means that my disease is and will continue to progress slowly. But it will be surely. But again, slowly.
My level of purposeful denial dipped when my doctor refused to renew a prescription for the muscle relaxants I take occasionally to relieve my twitchy muscles’ spasticity.
“It might be time for symptom management medication,” she said gently. Because while my UPDRS score remains as ‘steady’ as my tremor, my doctor’s refusal to prescribe the salve I’d pop occasionally to relieve my stiff and twitchy muscles makes PD that much more real.
While I aim to be an underachiever in the Parkinson’s Disease life test, PD isn’t going away. A prescription for Requip tells me so. Again. No Tizanidine prescription, no pill to mask my stiff muscle- reality.
“Are the drugs working?” My mother asked during a recent phone call.
“They’re not intended to ameliorate the symptoms but to prevent progression. We won’t know if they’re working until my autopsy.”
“My only symptom remains the tremor in my left hand.”
“Maybe it’s not Parkinson’s then after all.” A mother’s love grasps false hope.
“Sorry, Mother, it is.”
New medication. It’ll spark a different conversation. If I take it. If I tell her.
I stare at the prescription. And the doctor’s notes, “Side effects include: ….. and compulsive behaviors (gambling [Bad.], hypersexuality [“Hmmm… not so bad says hubby.”], overeating [Really?], shopping/spending [Hubby and I both frown.].
Parkinson’s is messing with my mind. To mess with its ravages, I must mess with my mind further. I fill the prescription. I stare at it. I know I will take it. But not tonight. Tonight my Claw will quiver with a pill bottle in hand steadying me in this stage of my PD reality. Tonight I will sleep the slumber of the reassured patient who can manage her Claw without more chemical interference. Tomorrow is another day. And I believe that I will have many more tomorrows to stare at pill bottles, my children, breathtaking sunsets… and promising research about PD that may one day return my Claw back to a Tickle Monster.