This has been sitting in my drafts since end September 2018. I keep coming back to this idea, but I could never find the words to explain.
It’s my curse for obvious reasons: daily pain (ranging from barely an annoyance to nearly unbearable), tremors, lack of coordination, rigidity, digestive problems, sleep problems, depression, constant fatigue. To name just some of the most common ones.
But it has also been a blessing.
The most obvious way has been that it has taught me to accept help. It has forced me to be aware of my limits and taught me to carefully consider where I want to spend that energy.
It has also taught me not to put stuff off for later. Later I might not be able to do it or enjoy it anymore.
It has taught me that I have to take care of my body. I can’t get away with the stuff I used to. I need to pay attention to what I eat. I have to make the time for exercise.
But most importantly, it has taught me to be vulnerable. My closest friendships are with people I was willing to share my story with and who in turn has been willing to be vulnerable themselves.
I have better relationships with my colleagues because they know I’m being authentic. Many of those colleagues have come to me with relationship or mental health issues. They are willing to do that because I showed them that it’s okay to be vulnerable.
Paradoxically, it has also taught me that I am strong enough to deal with this. I accept help where I can, but there are some things you just have to face on your own.
The depression and loneliness of knowing that Parkinson’s will be with me for the rest of my life while slowly robbing me of control of my body is not something my friends or family can help with. It’s not something they can even understand. I have to live with that and make peace with it a thousand times a day when something reminds me that I have Parkinson’s. A tremor, a pain, a smell I can’t smell, and hundreds of other little things constantly remind me that I have PD.
But, I get up every morning in any case. I face the day with optimism.
I live the best life I can.
And that’s more than I can say about my pre-Parkinson’s life.