Saturday, October 16, 2010

Positive About Parkinson's Disease? Who Are You Kidding?

Twyford is a quiet, modest English village found just off the M4 motorway, 35 miles (50 kms.) east of London. Its name means “twin fords” and, indeed, there are two fords near town. Life sometimes has two fords. Some do not make it across the first one for lack of a sturdy staff or helping hand, and give into the powerful current and get swept downstream, perishing in the dark waters.

The Twyford and Ruscombe Cricket Club recently lost a valuable member. Rod was a 44-year-old accountant who, in addtion to his tireless dedication to his job, was loyal to his team. Sure, he was quiet, like the town he lived in. But family and friends loved him. Despite all that, in the early morning hours of May 16, 2010, in the parking lot of a super market about a mile from his home, Rod was found in his car, dead by his own hand. He could not make it through the deep water at the ford. Would that someone was there to encourage him in a way he could hear. Someone who could break through the dark depression, the hopelessness. No doubt there were those who tried.

Rod had Parkinson’s disease. Diagnosed quite recently, in 2007, and he seemed to be coping well, however, the note he left behind told otherwise.  The prospect of a future with this degenerative disease whittling away his youth and vitality caused him to despair. Just when he was beginning to enjoy vacations and time off, the fruit of his hard work, he was confronted by the formidable challenge, the unexpected “ford”. The current was too strong.

Suicide leaves a legacy of pain and irresolvable guilt. Surely, life has significance beyond disease. Yet we so easily lose perspective when our anguish and anxiety, like a cancer, are kept inside. Fear and worry fester uncontrolled when undisclosed, secretly corrupting every hope until death seems to be the only choice.

Life is meant to be lived in relationship, in family, in community, as part of a team. Solitary confinement in the cold darkness steals our sanity. We were made to relate to others, to share our deepest and darkest depression, exposing its delusions to the light of another's eyes, allowing love, as raw and clumsy as it can be sometimes, to warm us. We are not meant to be alone. Ask yourself: "Would one Chilean miner trapped alone underground have survived the first 17 days if there had been no voice of hope?". We need each other!

When we lose someone like Rod, we lose a little of ourselves. We must band together as a team. We must refuse to let the beast of PD conquer our will to live. We can share this treacherous journey and give courage to each other and those who follow. Let us, together, commit to fight the fear and cling to hope, whatever happens. If not for ourselves, then let us do it for others who, like Rod, need the will to live.


  1. If I may, I'd like to offer a collective comment on this post to include thoughts on your previous post. I feel for Rod, and to be honest, was completely taken aback when you said he was suffering (literally and deeply) from PD. I have never felt that level of despair toward having the disease, but the loneliness you describe and isolation is definitely there. Who really wants to hear about the aches, pains, and most of all, fear? No one really. I try my best to keep the bad days to myself.

    There are so many wonderful people out there fighting this disease and raising monies for research. I am not one of those holding my hand out. I feel selfish asking for something that would benefit me... silly, I know. However, while my hands may not be held out to others, they are often in my wallet, checkbook, or holding a credit card so I can contribute to the cause. I give for me, for you, and for my children. God, I hope they don't get this disease.

    I love your posts. You have the courage to speak what I often feel.

  2. Hi Bob~
    I have read this post over and over...and each time I cry. My heart is deeply touched by this story. My prayers are with Rod and his loved ones. Your impeccable words express the the realities of this insidious disease. Your comment on the Chilean miners was an awesome analogy that really got me to thinking. Every now and then I have a tiny pity party with only one guest in Today was one of those days, I was very weepy. I was glad I had your blog to click to, it reminded me that other brave warriors are traveling the same rode. Thank you so sharing your thoughts so beautifully. Keep's makes a difference in many lives.
    Warm Wishes~

  3. KJ;

    You are one thoughtful and thought-provoking person, and that is so appreciated as sometimes we bloggers wonder whether anyone thinks about this stuff like bloggers.
    I sent a long post response to you but don't know if you got it as it did not make it to here. I get concerned about the German stoic that I can be sometimes and have found that it is better to be a real as I can be with others. You will find my thoughts on the strength of weakness and how we need to share the good and bad of the battle with our comrades at arms. There is a difference between whining and sharing the burden. The former gets pity at best, whereas the latter gets understanding and encouragement. "Friendship means the common sharing of weakness" and we cannot grow close to those who are always strong.
    I appreciate your comments and always look forward to hearing your thoughts.

  4. Cindy;

    You have the gift of encouragement and I for one have been blessed by you. We all fall victim to self-pity and that is not the problem. Staying there is. We can be there for others when they feel like staying there.
    Thanks very much.

  5. United we stand, Divided we fall.

    In memory of all those who have lost their lives as a result of what this can do to the mind, body and soul.


  6. Jo;

    You are an encouragement to many. Thanks and keep it up.


  7. I recently saw a film about a "real suicide" where you pay in Switzerland and they give you a poison to drink. The film followed two men who had debilitating diseases. One was famous, very wealthy, had a gorgeous home and loving wife who did NOT want him to do this, but went with him and was there at the end. It was quite different from watching make believe, they showed the actual suicide, and I tell you, it had an overwhelming impact on me. I think before I sympathised with those who made that choice, but after watching it, seeing the finality, I felt only sadness and failure. Recently someone I knew committed suicide and no one knows why. A few years back the same thing. It hurts the ones left behind so much. I encourage everyone to NOT take their own life. Live a life that is an example to others of how to rise above adversity.