Tuesday, January 24, 2012
How I accepted Parkinson's
The more that I have talked to people who know me about my condition, I continue to get the same question from almost everybody, "how did you come to accept Parkinson's with such a positive attitude?" What most people don't know, I wasn't so positive about having Parkinson's when I was first diagnosed. In fact, I feel into a long state of depression. Not only does Parkinson's disease affect the body's nervous system, but the brain cells that PD patients continue losing "Dopamine Cells" also affect the "state of emotions" that the brain processes. So almost all Parkinson's patients, including myself, have all the Parkinson's symptoms and also suffer from depression. Truth be told, I will never forget the day that I came to acceptance with my disease. It was a bright, sunny day and I was sitting on my Aunt and Uncle's front porch in Lynchburg, Virginia just staring. I had been drinking all day, feeiing sorry for myself, when all the sudden I noticed a disfigured man walking out of an apartment building across the street. While I didn't know this person, I did recognize what he was suffering from because I had seen Sheena treat several patients that looked just like him. He had muscular dystrophy. I was actually surprised to see that he was able to walk on his own, because most patients are in a wheel chair and can't even speak. He was walking very slowly, and his elbows were sticking up in the air as if he was haning onto strings to hold himself in the upright standing position. While most people would admit they would stare because he was "different", however, I was staring because I was so moved by how well he was getting around. A huge smile ran across my face while I watched him. However, my smile would turn quickly into a frown, as I burst into tears, not believing what my eyes were seeing. I literally sat and watch 2 different sets of people stop what they were doing, stare at this poor man, even pointing towards him, and laughed. I couldn't believe it. Grown adults, pointing and laughing at someone suffering from such a horrible disease. I could barely catch my breath because of how hard I was crying. I felt so sorry for this guy. My hands covered my face, soaking wet from tears, only for my ears to hear these people continuously laughing. I gathered myself together to look up, thinking I would see this poor guy turn around and walk back to his apartment. But he didn't. He kept walking. His head was held high up in the air. And what struck me most of all....he was smiling. I'm sure that this wasn't anywhere close to being the first or last time that people stared at him and laughed, but instead of letting it get him down, he let it fuel his fire and smile. I couldn't believe how strong and courageous this man was. He was probably no more than 17 years old, and goodness, the hell he has went through i can't possibly imagine. I was simply amazed at what I saw that day. I wondered what it was like to just spend a few hours in that mans shoes. I couldn't fathom what he goes through on a daily basis. But it made me realize, all the times I'd been stared at because I was struggling to speak, or all the times that I've caught people staring at my hands while they shake, that it wasn' worth getting upset over anymore. I was going to follow this man's strength and use my disease as a reason to smile. This guy could easily get away with sitting in doors all day, feeling sorry for himself, thinking life isn't fair, and good lord who could blame him. But instead he made a tougher choice. He was going to live his life the way he wanted to, and not let muscular dystrophy take anything from him. Because of him, I started looking at myself in a completely different way. I looked at life in a different way. It was time to start smiling and having fun, because that's what life is about. Best of all, you don't have to be suffering from any disease at all to learn the same lesson I learned that nice day in Lynchburg.