Parkinson's Disease -
Challenges and Encouragement
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Fear is the Prophet - Day 14
The back tire lurched and slid to the right and then hard left. Gravel is like ice to a big touring motorcycle. Even a little strewn on a corner can be fatal. And this was a sharp 30 mph blind corner on an uphill forest road with no place to go but into the pine trees. There are certain anticipated consequences of striking upright wooden objects with human flesh; the wood wins. Instinctively, but completely incorrectly, I put my right foot down to stop the fall. The heel of my motorcycle boot bounced off of the pavement, countering the sliding momentum of bike and rider. Wobbling but staying upright the bike miraculously recovered from a certain case of serious road rash (or worse) and mangled metal. No skill involved. Just angels. George can attest to it all.
My heart pounded inside my rib cage like the fists of a madman screaming "I'm going to die. Let me out of here!". I gripped the handlebars as if they were the only thing between me and a pair of permanent wings (I was praying out loud). My normal Parkinson's tremor instantly became near full-body convulsions. I could not stop the bike for fear of falling off because of my uncontrolled vibrations. So I continued on, scanning each curve with microscopic attention to dirt, debris or gravel thrown from the six inch shoulder onto the road surface by corner-cutting cars. It seemed like an anti-biker conspiracy. I could not help feeling anger at the four wheeled patrons of the pavement for ruining perfectly good corners. Swooping smoothly around 40 mph bends turned into creeping cautiously round them at 20 mph. Even stopping to view the summit lava beds and stunning vista of Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters did little to diminish my fixation on the split-second event that occurred minutes before.
As if the miracle on the mountain were not enough, descending the narrow road proved to be equally precarious. A dark green Jeep Cherokee was accelerating up the hill on my side of the road straight at me. It was as if Big Blue and I were the intended target of one of those Roman ships with drums pounding in the rowers galley to spur the slave rowers into a frenzied pace while the ship's captain shouted, "Ramming speed!" What is it with these road warriors? Do they watch too many Mad Max movies? Squeezing towards the right non-existent shoulder, not knowing what to do next, the Kamikaze pilot pulled his machine back towards his side of the tarmac just in time for me to get by. I swear he was snarling through his yellowed and broken teeth as he stared at me shooting by his driver's window.
When you ride a motorcycle there are many things to fear. Fear is appropriate. Cowardice is to give in to the fear. Only a sociopath feels no fear. Only an idiot ignores it. Fear delivers prophecies of what can happen if steps are not taken. Fear is a prophet. Of course, the prophet may be lying, exaggerating or be mislead. That is where discernment comes in. As with fears that I often feel in relation to my PD, fears resulting from riding my motorcycle must be examined carefully before reacting. Like the Old Testament says, "Test the prophet. Respect and obey him if what he says rings true. Stone him if his words prove false and thereby rid yourself of him".
Many of the 250 miles we travelled on Thursday from Redmond to McMinnville, Oregon, were spent with me shivering. Not from the temperature (it hit 39 degrees Centigrade - 102 F), but from the aftershocks of the day's close calls. But we made it unscathed, if somewhat wiser and more cautious on narrow forestry roads with sharp corners.
Soon the scary parts of the day retreated to their proper, less dominant place as we had a pleasant glass of wine with the owner of Red Ridge Farms (who grows olives, George's next passionate endeavor), and later George and I enjoyed a good meal at Nicky's in the old downtown area.
Each day is a gift. And an opportunity to listen to and learn from the Prophet.
Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2006, I was 53. I currently serve as the President of Trinity Western University, of which I am an alumnus. I remain engaged as a lawyer who practices as general counsel to a wide variety of clients, primarily in the Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada.
Married for 40+ years (to the same loving and long-suffering woman), with 3 grown children, and one grandson. Besides my wife and family, my passion is living the adventure called life as a God-given gift, which includes motorcycle riding, scuba-diving, blogging, Scrabble and looking for the treasure hidden in each day.