Written by my mama, LaRue Winslow
April was Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. Another year has passed and no cure in sight.
While life was happening, this invisible, uninvited guest moved in and now he won’t leave. Sometimes I call him “Mr. Parky.” He resides on the right side of my body. He is such a nuisance. I made a deal with “Mr. Parky.” If he only stays on my right side, I won’t have him evicted. I wish!
I’ve heard people say, “Parkinson’s Disease won’t kill you, you will just wish that you were dead.” I don’t feel that way. Every day is a gift. If my symptoms become severe, maybe I will have a different opinion. I pray I’ll be a lucky one and still be gardening at 100+ years old. I thank God for the sunshine. It warms my bones and clears my head.
I didn’t choose this disease, but I can choose how I handle it. You have to grieve for what you have lost before you can find your new normal. I try to be positive but once in a while it gets the best of me.
I fell apart at my sister-in-laws funeral. I was already sad and shaken over losing her to pancreatic cancer at 67 years old the Friday before Mother’s Day. I had a complete meltdown, even barked at my husband for looking at me. Hannah offered to carry my plate in the food line. I flatly told her “no.” I won the tug-of-war with the plate. I felt so useless. And yes, I apologized later. I didn’t realize she knew that I had fallen in Cracker Barrel in Greenville. I was carrying two take out plates and a drink refill for the road. Cracker Barrel was packed. The plates started sliding and I forgot to pick up my right foot. What a mess!
My body has no automatic. I have to tell my feet to move. My brain sends out the signal but the command can’t get where it needs to go. My body is not producing enough of a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is an important messenger that carries signals between brain cells.
My family keeps me going. Even the young grandkids keep an eye on me. Once I started down the hallway, and one of my granddaughters saw me having trouble with my foot. It just wouldn’t do what I wanted so I slapped my leg hard. She didn’t say a word, took my hand, and took off walking with me. I looked down at her smiling and walking just like me. What a memory!
Did you think you would ever see a time when you couldn’t hug your kids or grandkids? I miss them so much. I miss having 20+ people over on Sundays. I miss cooking with the kids and having ice cream socials on the porch while the kids mix up buckets of mud to paint my sidewalks.
I’m so fortunate. They all stop by to check on me and bring me the best treats. To name a few: Sherries Berries, Pro Flowers, Hot and Ready doughnuts, ice cream, cheese, and Layden’s chocolate covered peanuts and raisins. Yum, yum.
If you see me out and about and I’m standing still like a statue, my foot is frozen. You can’t imagine how embarrassing it can be. It only lasts a few seconds, but it seems like forever. Everyone wants to help, but there’s nothing they can do except lighten your load and carry your packages.
The worst is when you are nearing a doorway and a sweet little old couple gets there ahead of you. The little old lady smiles and walks on in. The little old man holds the door and says “Come on in young lady” and my foot freezes. If I reply, “My foot is stuck” people look at me like I’m from another planet, that confused look. Maybe I should say, “I have a foot cramp” or “my ankle locked.”
I wish I could find a doctor who actually has Parkinson’s Disease. Perhaps they’d be more understanding. Still, I feel blessed. I lived 55 years of my life without meds. I applaud couples who have young-onset Parkinson’s and are raising their children. I don’t know how they handle it.
Let’s all of us continue to pray for a cure. When a cure is found, I can kick “Mr. Parky” to the curb. He has worn out his welcome.