Thursday, December 31, 2009

Prevailing Over Parkinson's: A Year in Review

It is with mixed feelings that I come to the end of 2009. There have been no breakthroughs in terms of finding a cure for, or alleviation of, Parkinson's disease despite some continuing promise in medical research and pharmacology. The PD continues to squeeze into more details of my life (I got an electric toothbrush for Christmas, which doubles as drill and or engraving machine when I change the head), and some of the aches and stiffness I am feeling now were not present in January of this year. I have become increasingly left-handed (eating, drinking and most fine motor skill tasks). Functionality has decreased somewhat, requiring me to adapt my schedule for more time to get ready for things (buttoning up the left sleeve of shirts is a frustrating challenge). I need more time to complete tasks (I often watch people watching me fill out a form in my stiff, painfully slow and ever-shrinking cuneiform printing, like observing a 5 year old write a sentence).

The tremor, the embarrassing albatross about my neck that it is, has crept deeper into my frame despite the fighting back I have done. It has advanced its occupational force into my ever-shaking right arm and leg (making simultaneous egg beating and toe-tapping permanent past-times). And days are increasingly filled with voices that whisper their evil, if irrefutably realistic, prophesies, "It will only get worse you know!", while the nights are spent in full mixed martial arts training.  The combination of aging and Parkinson's leaves me feeling the acceleration of time passing in ways I cannot explain.

But the year in review has also been remarkable for so many reasons. There is cause to celebrate the year now in the books, as a playing season for a sports team. Yes, we had a few losses, but we were well over the 500 mark, with the "wins" far out stripping the "loss" column. And there was improvement in learning how to play the game "Living Positively With Parkinson's".

A few of the ‘wins’ were:

1. Completing a 4 corners trip around the continental USA by motorcycle (45 days and 23,000 kms – 15,000 miles; 30 States and 5 Provinces).

2. Starting to blog and hoping that it is a creative and cathartic form of encouraging communication.

3. Meeting great encouragers like Big Jerry, Wobbly Bryn Williams (, Jon Stamford ( Slice of Life on Wobbly's website), Tom Isaacs (also on Wobbly's site) and other bloggers and friends who share my commitment to play out the personal PD cards we have each been dealt with the "never give up" attitude.

4. Continuing to be a part of the supportive team at my firm ( where we together pursue our common mission to serve as trusted problem solvers.

5. Experiencing good times with family (especially my grandson, Patrick) and friends, who never feel sorry for me and yet continue to seek to understand and support me in this uninvited challenge.

6. Spending some great times with my best friend and wife of 35 years, who loves me despite my crotchety and cranky moments (okay, maybe more than ‘moments’) when I am angry or depressed about my terrifying ride on the slippery slope down dopamine mountain.

So, as this year winds down, I find myself feeling blessed. And PD or no PD, I would not exchange my life for that of anyone else. Despite how it may feel sometime, I know that God has been very good to me.

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