Monday, September 8, 2008

Patience Pending

We people with Parkinson's are mavericks. We not only march to the beat of a different drummer, sometimes we don't march at all. In fact our theme song should be "I Ain't Marching Anymore" by Phil Ochs. Go with the flow? Not us. No flow, no go.

As members of a culture so manic that it has been forced to slice time into nanoseconds too small for any human to even perceive, we are the dissenting minority. While others multi-task all around us, texting their overfilled to-do lists to their partners while crashing their cars, we struggle to single-task, spending the morning buttoning our shirts or not tying our shoes.

This is role none of us are cut out for these days. Patience cannot be ordered over the Web and then delivered the next day in a brightly-colored Express envelope. Instead, we must learn it. And how do we do that?


Fortunately, we have many opportunities for practice. We spend countless minutes waiting for our meds to kick in. Dopamine brings a rush, but you can't rush dopamine.

Crossing a room can take on the quality of a major expedition, complete with danger. You may be in a hurry, but your feet are on their own schedule, and frankly, they're tired of being ordered around. They will get you there in their own sweet time. Push them too much, and you're going down hard, pal. They'll stick to the floor and you'll topple to their level with a thud that frightens everyone in the vicinity, with the exception of the mutinous extremities themselves. They're already safe on the floor. It won't be them that feels the pain. I don't know a single person with Parkinson's who has injured a foot in a fall.

So you learn not to rush your feet. They have the upper hand.

You want to practice patience? Try removing the cap from the bottle that holds the pills that enable you to take the caps off bottles. Hours of fun. The irony alone will amuse you for eons. Which is how long it will take to get to the pills.

The ultimate exercise for developing patience is the marathon wait for the cure. I remember a friend who bitterly observed that he had been assured that a cure was no more than a decade away. That decade has passed, and so has he. But bitterness sours the present for the sake of an uncertain future. So we need something to do instead of waiting. We have to work in the present to advance the progress toward the day when we can get back in the rat race with everyone else.

I'd love to just stop and smell the flowers, but ever the pranking poltergeist, Parkinson's even takes your sense of smell.


dr s said...

Beautiful post, Pete.
Smart, witty & moving.
your bro,

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Grateful for the feedback.

Moving is actually one of my main interests in life.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found you - via Parkinson's Post. DX April Fool's Day 2003. I was just saying to my sister after she told me a story about leaving a $100.00 tip instead of a $1.00 tip because she was moving too quickly through her day. Her comment was, "You're familiar with that." My reply was, "One of the gifts of PD is that I'm no longer familiar with making mistakes due to being/feeling rushed. I'm no longer capable of rushing." Thanks for your blog.


Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

"The gifts of PD" Do you find yourself as amazed to write such a phrase, as I am to understand exactly what you mean?


PS: I used to over-tip, now I tip over.

Anonymous said...

Hello Peter,

I live in Minnesota, the state that always is competing with yours for the coldest weather postings. I live in a city called Apple Valley. I read an article Northwest Parkinson's post. I am 54 and have lived with this illness for 18 years now. When I was first diagnosed, I did alot of genealogy research to learn more about my family's health history. My father never talked about his family and my mother was adopted.

I found my mother had a biological sister in Alaska who was 2 years older than my mother. They wrote back and forth as both are deaf. We haven't heard from her 1/2 sister for awhile and I am hoping she is OK. She sent me a few pictures of herself, and my children said I looked exactly like her, only younger. Her name is Laura Belle Scott and she lives at 22402 N. Birchwood Apt. 104, Chugiak, AL. 99567. If you could do an on-line search in the local papers, it would help alot to set our minds at ease.

I also have a sister with Parkinson's disease. I have had my gene tested and have 2 mutations of my Parkin gene.

I hope you continue with your editorial cartoons (this political storm we have been having must have plenty of fodder for your pen) as it is important to keep your brain working creatively. I play my clarinet, and love crossword puzzles. I also have a 100 lb. yellow lab I have trained to walk well with me. He has the AKA good canine citizen award. We walk daily and I also practice Pilates and us a elyptical machine 3 times a week.

Love you humor. Blessings to you and your family,

Vicky Lynn

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Hello Vicky, I poked around on the Web and as unable to learn anything about your aunt.

Thanks for your generous words about the blog, and stay warm!