“If they make a big deal out of it, just tell ‘em it’s contagious,” my husband ‘advised’ when I told him that a manicure/pedicure was part of my plan for the day. “So if you see a large number of manicurists running in the street…” I responded… “I’ll know you’ve taken my advice,” my hubby concluded. I know, he is unwell. Yes, I’m also aware that the same can be said of me.
Parkinson’s changes everything. When people ask, “how are you?” they expect a polysyllabic answer. “Same twitch, different day”, is my usual reply. I’m not getting any better…. But then, I’m not getting any worse either. The good and bad thing about a chronic condition is that there aren’t a lot of changes on a daily basis. Sure there are days when my hand trembles less than others due to a variety of central-nervous-system-affecting reasons. But a-flutter it is always…. The southward trajectory is a slow one (hopefully made sloth-like thanks to my pill protocol) but, as all of us know, yet most dare not verbalize, the degenerative progression is steady… at least for now.
And yet everything remains the same.
The sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. Kids still need to be ferried to and fro… and my nails still aren’t painting themselves… thus the above conversation.
“Parkinson’s? Like Muhammad Ali?” queried the manicurist as he attended to my more time-consuming left hand. “Yes,” I replied thinking that I owed the athlete/humanitarian (and a wordsmith in his own right too) a debt despite the technical differences in our diseases. “It’s better this week,” he said with a smile, “you taking medication?” “Yes, I do…” But not to abate my symptoms. I hope that the pills I ingest will slow my march toward a wheelchair, flat affect and general cognitive decline I don’t share this out loud though. Instead, I smile at the connection and the apparent pleasure the man cradling my hand seems to take in its relative quiet.
“I noticed you shaking,” said a random woman walking her dog as I stopped to text my tardy arrival to my gal pal. “Yes, I do. I have Parkinson’s Disease.” “My dad had Parkinson’s…,” the woman responded, insisting on a conversation. Why is it that things like this only happen when I’m late? “The AMA doesn’t want people to know about it…” the woman explained about the homeopathic remedy that helped her father and even her mother’ arthritis. I’m allowed to return to thoughts of my tardiness when I agree to take the number of THE naturopath with the magic elixir…. digits I know that I will never dial.
I am blessed. With my neurologist friend who ‘checks in’ on my care and reads up on PD even though her specialty is a different neurological nemesis. My nutritionist pal who loves me enough to research the malady and, having determined that toxicity is at its root, constantly ‘suggests’ chelation and advises me on which supplements I should swallow by the fistful. I am blessed. With a random manicurist I visit semi-regularly who sees the twitching glass as half full still. With a random woman who wants to share her secret cure. While Parkinson’s may be a curse of sorts – I’m not daft, given a choice, I’d rather not have it – it’s also a blessing. Parkinson’s Disease reminds me of the genuine good – wishes, research, post-disaster-assistance – that give our humanity hope even in the face of obstacles.