Are you newly diagnosed? Find out more about living with Parkinson's.
by Kip Allen
“What’s it like?”
During the nearly twenty years since my neurologist said, “You have Parkinson’s,” friends have often asked me that question. Outwardly, I show many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s: difficulty walking, an unexpected tremor, a quieting of speech…… so many movements (and lack of movements!) combine to make an individual package that tells society of the presence of P. D.
Inside, however, things are different. Parkinson’s is not me. It has no bearing on the person I am and am becoming.
Instead, Parkinson’s seems like an uninvited, unwanted roommate with whom I reluctantly share this body. “Parkinson” is the kind of name that can conjure up images of a British gentleman’s valet – like “Jeeves.”
But not my Parkinson! My Parkinson is a prankster. He is also mean-spirited. He delights in disrupting my walk, for example. Or he’ll freeze me in place, finally allowing a step to happen after a superhuman effort of lifting a foot. He simply wants me out, so that he can have this body all to himself.
In turn, I deal with him by playing games with him. When I’m walking, he appears out of nowhere to change my gait. So I change to a different walk: big steps a la Groucho Marx, or tiny steps, or a skip, or a sprint, or even walking backwards.
“Hey! Whacha doon??!!” he bellows. (Parkinson isn’t very smart.) But he is persistent. After some twenty steps he figures out the rhythm. And he tries to create another obstacle.
Each person with Parkinson’s develops his own ways of dealing with the disease. Humor helps. As the humorist Ogden Nash used to say, “There isn’t a shred of evidence that life is serious.”
A Model of Courage features a New Mexico man living with Parkinson's who continues to fly fish. Download the file below the cover photo to read his inspiring story of courage, hope and inspiration.
New Mexico Parkinson's Disease Coalition
P.O. Box 35091
Albuquerque, NM 87176