Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Lone Ranger Did Not Have Parkinson's

Vietnamese food is one of my favourites. I am especially fond of coconut curry chicken. But a mutual love of the cuisine was not the reason "Big Jerry" (he prefers that over Big Mike) and I were meeting. We are both lawyers with Parkinson's disease. In fact, we found ourselves laughing about how much we had in common. He was diagnosed younger (he is more than 10 years my junior), and after I was told I was positively Parkinson's. We don't have the same types of law practices. But we journey along together on this challenging obstacle course called life with PD. Somehow sharing the fears and the funny stuff makes the whole thing a little more manageable. Even our wives benefit from this friendship as the four of us get together for a nice meal every few months.

For some the bigger support group serves the purpose. For me, at least at this point in time, a few friends of the PD persuasion, like Jerry and Patrick, are a great comfort.

Of course there can be discomforting risks of meeting with other PD people. I remember my first encounter with a fellow PD person. The first thing she said as she struggled into the coffee shop, sat down and focused on my face was, "Oh, I see you can still smile.". She then launched into a litany of symptoms that she prophesied would soon befall me. It was like being pelted by punches, and I inwardly groaned at the images of me in some future state of pathetic incapacity.

Life with PD can be a lonely affair. Sometimes we feel anything but socially acceptable. People may avoid us like we are carriers of the H1N1 flu pandemic. But for me it is critical to silence those inner antisocial hecklers, like Waldorf and Statler, the Muppet characters spewing negative comments from the balcony.
To listen to them is to let the PD win, defining you as not acceptable in social environments. To be accepted by others we must first accept ourselves. And learning this with the encouragement of PD friends has been enormously encouraging to me.

The Lone Ranger did not have PD. But even so, he had Tonto to stand by him and encourage him. He wasn't the "Lone" Ranger at all.

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