Parkinson's Disease -
Challenges and Encouragement
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.
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.