Parkinson’s disease … diagnosis, symptoms, medicines … standard fare and easy to talk about. But for me and I suspect many others, there is much more to the story. Each of us has our own burdens when it comes to this disease … secrets, worry, loneliness. I now admit that this is a disease that I have had to get my head wrapped around … perhaps you have had as well. This blog will begin with letters I have written myself and to various people and for a variety of reasons but they all represent part of the journey that my head and my heart have taken since my diagnosis.
July 11, 2008,
I am 49 years old.
I can knit a sweater; I converted to Judaism and made a Bat Mitzvah; I am now a certified mohel*.
When I was 42 years old I ran a marathon**; I can climb a rock wall and am trained to belay.
I have delivered countless babies; I am a surgeon.
I love to travel and when I do I take lots of pictures which I put into great albums.
I love to take walks and although I hate to work out, I do it anyway.
I have been married for almost 20 yrs; I am a mom to three daughters.
I have been to Scotland, England, France, Israel, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain & Ecuador.
I like to read.
My patients tell me that I am often a great comfort to them during difficult medical challenges.
“I think you have Parkinson’s disease.” Time 00.000
26 seconds: Stunned silence.
26 heartbeats: Took longer than usual because I am sure that my heart stopped briefly.
26 tears: The first of many that would fill a bucket.
26 steps: Took me as far as the secretary who asked me for my $20 co-pay.
26 minutes: I sit at the pharmacy alone as I wait for my new prescription.
THIS is my new marathon. Life starts from this time clock because now I will never see it the same. I have always considered myself a lucky person and that my accomplishments would be lovingly enumerated when I was old … over 90, because anything less is not old. But now I will measure not what I did but what I will do. I will not ‘mind wander’ to the end of my life but will focus on and be grateful for each small marathon I am able to finish now.
*a person in the Jewish faith who performs ritual circumcisions on newborn baby boys.
**twenty six……yes 26! miles.