It all started several weeks before we were to leave on our short but much-anticipated vacation aboard the Emerald Princess out of Fort Lauderdale. As is often the case, it took a week or more of working 14 to 16 hour days to get ready to take one week off, therefore I arrived at the hotel in Florida the night before our ship’s embarkation, feeling rundown and exhausted. More importantly, or so I thought, I was minus my suitcase, which held all of my clothes and, stupidly, my Parkinson's medication. The bag and its needed contents had apparently gone AWOL at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, aided and abetted by some practical-joking baggage handler. Apparently he or she thought it would be hilarious as he imagined me, dressed in my latest Lululemon clothes with my right side shaking with the necessary velocity to gain flight, trying to convince the maître d' that I should be permitted entry with my wife and friends into the Botticelli dining room on formal night. The American Airlines missing baggage department assured me they would launch a full-scale search and recovery mission in order to track down my truant luggage, ensuring that it would be captured, taken into custody and transported under guard on the next flight to Fort Lauderdale, arriving at the hotel late that evening. Long after midnight I gave up waiting and fell asleep with images of looking seriously out of sync with my well-dressed wife.
My next 3 days were spent largely in our cabin (thank goodness for a balcony), only venturing out with a large stash of tissues to staunch the tide that would erupt from my increasingly runny nose. Fellow voyagers scowled at me as I attempted to avoid spraying them with my sneezes. Even crewmembers invariably sought out one of the innumerable hand sanitizer machines every time I went by them stifling my hacking cough and sniffing incessantly. The alliteration was not lost on me: catching a cold on a cruise in the Caribbean!
But despite the lack of cold medicine on board the otherwise well-stocked cruise ship, and notwithstanding my antisocial behavior as I disappeared for a nap every couple hours, I began to appreciate that things could be worse. I could be at work attempting to function in Stoic fashion, pressed by demands I felt ill-equipped to meet. Instead, I had a whole week to recover in the sun, enjoying 80 plus temperatures and unparalleled scenery, sharing excellent food and entertainment with good friends. I could sleep whenever I felt like it, which was often, and likely return home at the end of the week modestly refreshed and rested. Having a cold in the Caribbean was not so bad.
It is easy to feel sorry for ourselves. But there are many who have little medical or other support in their fight against the fear and uncertain future that follows a diagnosis of PD, if such a diagnosis is available. Comparatively, we are fighting Parkinson’s in paradise.