Monday, February 1, 2010

Apathy to Optimism - My Parkinson's Pendulum

Parkinson’s disease can test the toughest and most hardened, playing havoc with your emotions. Over time, the Parkinson's pendulum picks up speed. Sometimes it is like a swing, pushed so hard that it reaches a near horizontal plane at both ends. It is then that I feel insecure, a sense of being out of control. Yes, there is a rush as I speed from one emotional pinnacle to the next, from push to pull and back again. But I wonder each time that I fly by the safety of the ground, who or what is pushing me out of control. Or am I simply pumping my own legs to achieve the heady heights and speed.

Life with PD has been like that lately. One minute there is exhilaration at the challenge, and the next discouragement. I move with ever-increasing velocity from enthusiasm to apathy, optimism to cynicism, ready to take on the future then over-burdened by the present. I know it is related to the PD, whether it be the disease itself, the medications, or the psychological reaction to the uncertain but inevitably compromised future.

And yet there are moments, like now, when the spin cycle slows enough for me to gather my thoughts and remember my commitment to being positive. You see, I realized that it must be a commitment, a decision, for there are those who will beckon me to visit the land of negativity, all the while gripping their own half-empty glasses. They seek to defeat any sunshine that might creep ever so tentatively from behind the cloud that is raining on every parade it can find.

At every step along the path of Parkinson's there are choices I have to make. Will I be brought down by the pending problems, or buoyed up by the challenge to find the silver lining. Will I, by words and attitude, choose to encourage others and myself, or fall into the pit of despair, self-pity and depression? In a phrase, will I be positively Parkinson’s or sadly resigned?

Of course, this vacillation in living goes to the very core of who we are. It forces us, even if we do not face the challenges of a debilitating and degenerative disease such as PD, to ask serious questions we fear because we do not have adequate answers. What or who will we put our faith in? At the risk of "wasting" our time, energy and money, what investments in the future will we make? Despite how we may feel; hurt, alienated, angry, or isolated, how will we live each day such that each person we touch will feel cared for? These are not questions that can be answered once and then never revisited. Curious, but that is the way it is with most important issues. They must form part of the fabric of our lives, demanding of us a response, a commitment, a decision, on a continuing basis.

The emotional swing goes forward then backward. For every action there is a potential reaction. Most of my reactions are ill-considered, emotionally-driven and self-centered. But I have learned that it is often better to feel the sting, take the punch, and study the source so that my responses can be reasoned, tactful, sensitive and caring. It is the way I can slow the swing of the pendulum to a measured pace.

It is my prayer that the start of a new month will be an opportunity to re-commit to the goal of living out my Parkinson's positively rather than succumbing to cynicism. Let me point the way to Hope and in the process replace the panic and pain of the pendulum's swing with peace and purpose.


  1. Very well said my friend and as always beautifully written. You must never let the tide of people who will put you down succeed because as you know Parkinson's wins then and and game is over. In this game we need all the players we can get to find that cure and do it with a smile on your face and love in your heart. Hang in there you are on the right road and we are "Off to see the Wizard" love Pokie

  2. Oh, my friend, your words aren't just for those who suffer from Parkinson's. This world in which we find ourselves so easily clouds our minds with despair and pessimism. What you have said is true for every living soul on this planet. I don't minimize the tremendous burden that Parkinson's inflicts upon those who have been trampled by it's power - but what you say is good for everyone who faces discouragement.