items on the Web reporting a link between the start of dopamine therapy for Parkinon's Disease and a flowering of creative energy. This interested me because of the "creative roll" that I have been on since my diagnosis ten years ago.
As this streak continued to unfold I began to wonder if it was an artifact of the treatment. If so, was the treatment merely bringing me up to my baseline creativity, or was I being "artificially enhanced", like a ballplayer hopped up on steroids? I worried and wondered for awhile, and then it hit me: What difference does it make? What is important is what you can and do accomplish. The other stuff just isn't measurable.
Parkinson's is at work in our bodies long before the first tremor betrays its presence. When that first tremor does show, it means that 70-80% of the dopamine-brewing cells in your substantia nigra are no longer in the dopamine manufacturing biz. The fact that one can skate so long with such impairment is truly amazing, and I have grown to find it comforting. But again I pondered, what had Parkinson's stolen from me before we caught it red-handed? It is the inverse of the first question, and just as useless to worry over.
Parkinson's Disease itself is fiendishly creative. It reshapes personalities, habits and even physical characteristics. It demands a creative response. One has to rethink how life can be approached, from the simple act of walking to the complexity of spousal relationships. And because Parkinson's Disease is always on the move, we must stay on the alert for new ways to cope as old strategies lose their efficacy. As our capabilities diminish, we must incorporate new ideas of who we are into our notions of ourselves.
This is a form of creativity that can't be measured in the number of drawings executed or the number of sonnets written. It is the process of building meaning from the pile of jackstraws that we become following the diagnosis of PD. It entails loss and bereavement. It's hard to accept. But to go on, you have to re-imagine yourself in ways you never would have without the challenge of this disease. This is the creativity demanded of all of us who have Parkinson's Disease. So far, it remains unmeasured.