"No" is the place of safety. Barricaded from the world by this tiny word one can find respite from shouldering the burden of Parkinson's Disease and stooping under its weight in front of others. "No" will spare you scorn and pity. It will spare you the effort of getting strangers to understand you. It will spare you the anxiety of being caught by a freezing episode in public. It will spare you another performance of "The Bladder Dance" as you attempt to stifle the distress signals that a load of two tablespoons now causes that implacable thug of an internal organ.
The advantages are clear. "No" keeps you out of trouble. With so much to recommend it (it's even short and easy to pronounce) one is tempted to rely on it exclusively. No problem. No worries. Alas, in the never-ending balancing act that is living with Parkinson's Disease it's easy to overdo "No". No fair!
Unfortunately once you decide you need an alternative, you quickly end up at "yes", with all the stress and storm that comes with it. "Yes" is commitment, initiative, creativity, yes is work.
With Parkinson's disease, just getting up in the morning is work. Why should we pile more work on top of the difficulties we experience with tasks of everyday living? Well, because life goes on after we have finally managed to get our shirts buttoned. To rely on "no" is to become one of the living dead, to play right into the hands of Parkinson's Disease. And, as you may have noticed, Parkinson's does not have our best interests at heart. Saying yes is one more way of denying PD a chance to reach into your life with its cold, dead fingers.
Why is all this on my mind? Recently I was invited to become one of the hosts on the local public radio program "Hometown". As one of four rotating hosts the job is to come up with monthly show topics and guests, to interview guests live on the radio, take calls and read email questions, along with other tasks too tedious and trivial to mention.
I did a quick inventory of my radio skills and assets. Negligible radio experience? Check. Difficulty speaking clearly? Check. Impaired multitasking skills? Likely. All the leading indicators pointed emphatically towards "no".
I said yes.
Theoretically, I can finesse the above problems, or they wouldn't have asked me, right? What is the worst that could happen? I mean, besides having to do the bladder dance in the studio very quietly while quizzing a guest on the finer points of the municipal code? I guess the worst can be summed up in the word "Failure". And I'd rather be a radio failure than a successful nay-saying member of the living dead.
Hometown Alaska airs on the 13th of July at two on KSKA, fm 91.1 We'll be talking about Alaskans and social media. Your calls welcome, the less I talk, the better.