I was 83 in excellent health and had never even taken prescriptive drugs when a neurologist diagnosed my unusual and un-coordinated leg movements as being caused by a dreaded, permanently progressive and incurable affliction for which even the cause is unknown. I had Parkinson’s Disease! Immediately that doctor’s words brought shock and agonized disbelief. it seemed like a death sentence, with nowhere to turn, leaving me grasping for absolutely anything that would give me hope. What terrible sin or sins were on my Heavenly record? What had I done to deserve this horror that is visited upon so few?
All my physician could do was prescribe the “standard” medication, to be taken three times daily. The positive effect would wear off rapidly. Then began what I now have learned is a typical progression of attitude changes: From “shocked disbelief” to denial and isolation, anger, depression, surrender.
My sense of balance was impaired, legs and feet shuffled abnormally or even froze in place when I attempted to initiate that impossible first step, or to enter a narrow or confined area, and tremor increasingly was affecting my right hand such that my handwriting suffered terminally. The only effective medications had short lives and must be taken repeatedly. The most profound effect seized upon my attitude, which had deteriorated to the point at which I told my wife I really didn’t want to live like this. And I meant it! My life was ruined.
My Caregiver to the Rescue!
Divine Providence, however had not abandoned me, for I am blessed. Yes, indeed blessed, with a wife who is not only a very attractive lady, but is a beautiful person. The latter defines that special beauty that lives in her heart. She instantly became my caregiver and came to my rescue. With kind understanding she gradually and skillfully “turned me around” and convinced me to be thankful for the years already given, to accept my condition in good grace, and to look ahead with firm determination to make my future one of accomplishment.
When I need assistance, she never falters and continuously gives me strength to endure my awesome burden and perceive the blessing of a future filled with hope. My wife is the ultimate caregiver. I know, of course, I will be called sooner than I would otherwise, but she and I will face the future together and be grateful for our time together.
Finding My Way.
With my attitude now better composed to accommodate my condition, and in order to gain knowledge that would enable me to better cope with my disease, I decided to carry out extensive research in the internet and in all available books. I picked the minds of hundreds of physicians and other practitioners as I scoured the internet and printed hundreds of pages of every facet of pertinent material. I subscribed to PD periodicals, received printed information from clinics and other treatment facilities, and read several books relating specifically to Parkinson’s.
I was disappointed, especially with all those books, for they really were dull and difficult reading, mostly written in “med-speak” by physicians in the manner of didactic college medical textbooks or Army manuals. Many of the books covers even looked like textbooks. I finally realized all they provided was information. I was not being guided into the future with hope of better living!
Also, I scrounged up the name and phone number of the mentor of the local Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, contacted her and joined that group, in order to attend their meetings so I could learn from the experience of others. (This grew on me and I now produce the monthly letter announcing the date, time and place of the next meeting, while giving written encouragement). I was determined to gather every bit of data on my disease available to me, and worked diligently to acquire it.
During this period, I “experimented” (of course with my wonderful caregiver nearby) with any and all movements, mental fixes and assistive devices in order to develop solutions for my degenerating abilities; answers I had not found during all my research. More than one trial-and-error attempt resulted in bruises, but nothing broken. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit our kitchen trash holder has a dented top to remind me of the time I attempted to step sideways on a foot with body weight on it. “It doesn’t work that way”, my wife told me as she helped me to my feet. It pays to keep trying, and, all told, the net results included findings of great benefit to my everyday life.
I originated a method to initiate that first step safely and surely, a very important element for PD living not found anywhere in my extensive research. Also, I now knew how to at least temporarily quell or mitigate hand tremor. Another original finding! Other original essentials relating to successfully living with PD evolved or were discovered. My life gradually but surely was brightening! The most really significant element affecting my efforts was singular and vital: I had direction! I had a goal!
I suddenly realized I possessed volumes of information and even unique data that would be enormously helpful but may be unknown to fellow PD patients. It was at that point I sensed that compulsion (like a powerful hand on my shoulder), a really strong urgency, to share with other Parkinson’s Disease sufferers all I had learned before it was too late. Work became a joy.
I became increasingly positive about the scope and direction of the book. I knew I had to write a new type of book that will positively encourage readers, one that is easily read and understood by my PD fellows, many of whom are aged and with failing vision and comprehension. I already had authored five books, so the idea was not burdensome to me. “Sensible Self-Help For Parkinson’s Disease” was born in November, 2004. I am convinced the material will contribute to a better life and well-being for many readers. If my book materially and spiritually assists others, then my purpose in life will be fulfilled! This brings to mind the famous soliloquy from Chas. Dickens’ classic, “A Tale Of Two Ccities:” “It is a far, far better thing I do now, than I ever have done before”.