Monday, October 4, 2010

Parkinson's Disease Through Three-Dimensional Glasses

[aragon.jpg]It was late afternoon in The Aragon, a well-established pub on Byres Road in the West End of Glasgow. While there were at least a half-dozen television screens in sight, all eyes were focused on a single wall-mounted screen at the end of the small, low-ceiling room. At first glance, the TV images seemed fuzzy, out of focus. I immediately thought this explained why each of the bar’s patrons seemed to be peering at the blurry images so intently. Then I wondered whether each had one too many pints of Scottish-brewed Tennent in an attempt to keep the 5000 year old brewery business alive and well in this land of brogue and kilts. But more careful observation disclosed what was really occurring. They were all attentively watching a game the modern version of which originated, circa 12th century, in Scotland: golf. And they were doing so through three-dimensional glasses.

The place was as quiet as a spectator gallery waiting for Tiger Woods to drain a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole. In fact, three patrons who evidenced a callous disregard for the game and were talking loudly in one corner were asked by the bar manager to leave the premises if they were not prepared to quiet down. It was the first time I recall being in a drinking establishment where silence was the rule rather than the exception. But this was the Ryder Cup, and the European team, cheered on by every person in the place, was desperately seeking to hang onto its tenuous lead over the Americans.

Donning a pair of the black-rimmed glasses I was astonished at what I was able to observe. There truly was another dimension that simply could not be seen without the glasses. It seemed so simple, and yet it changed the whole picture, making it dynamic and more alive. It was as dramatic as the 1927 transition must have been from silent movies with subtitled narrative to the "talkies".

Later, celebrating the one point win brought home to the European team by none other than Graeme McDowell (not Scottish, but Irish), I found myself asking the question, "What if people could see Parkinson's disease for what it really is simply by putting on a pair of special glasses?" Instead of being a two-dimensional disease comprised of old people frozen or shaking out of control, the true three-dimensional nature of the illness would be evident. The unexplored depth to this disease that even scientists are struggling to understand would become clear. However, it seems that no one has yet invented the PD dimensional glasses.

So how do we help people see beyond the fuzzy, hard-to-watch images of Parkinson's? How do we explain, without whining or soliciting pity, the full picture of what we face every day? Perhaps it is like the game of golf. It needs to be played with patience, perseverance, and one stroke at a time. There is no place to hide on a golf course. One way or another our strength of character in the face of our struggles will become evident, three-dimensional glasses or not.

1 comment:

  1. As always, a wonderful post! As a golfer, your analogies are spot on. In golf you always play the ball where it lies, and sometimes you have to scramble to get out of a bad situation. A few bad shots can always be redeemed by one spectacular one. And that's the hope that all of us with Parkinson's have.

    Hope you are doing well.

    Your friend, Pat