Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can you Keep a Secret? It's Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month

Pssssst... keep it under your hat. Don't tell a soul. This is your-eyes-only stuff on a strictly need to know basis, and yes, I'll have to kill you after I tell you. Can you handle the truth? It is, believe it or not, Parkinson's Awareness Month.

Once again April, in all her cruelty, demands that an oblivious world divert its attention from the disaster in Japan, War #3 in Libya, and even the lovely locks of Justin Beiber to (ahem) us.

April is the time we are supposed to raise our soft slurred voices in a cry for attention. A cry to which the World will likely reply "What? Couldn't catch that. Come again?" And who can blame it?

With the thousands of worthy causes out there demanding attention through such tired devices as "awareness" months, how do we get the world to focus on our particular little tragedy? That is the question of the moment.

But is it the right question? Isn't a better question why should anyone care? Given all the other sad, desperate conditions and predicaments that humanity faces, what can and should we do to make it worth the World's time to devote its distracted mind and heart to us?

Let's begin convincing people PD matters by ditching Parkinson's Awareness Month. Reserving a month for PD awareness leaves eleven months for Parkinson's obliviousness. We need to let people know they should care about Parkinson's Disease year-round. How? For a start, if you are hiding your PD, come out of the closet and let people know. This is especially important for young-onset patients. I have met good doctors that couldn't believe I had PD because I'm "Too young". An invisible problem is not going to rise to the top of anyone's to-do list. You must allow people to see your predicament before they can feel compelled to confront it. If you're not part of the problem, you're not part of the solution.

So you boldly step out of the closet. That's a start. What next? You have to show you care. If you can't be bothered to resist Parkinson's Disease, why should anyone with a less obvious stake in the matter be bothered? If you need some ideas about how to do this, no worries, here are a few. Start a blog, volunteer as a PD research subject, join a support group, get involved in a fund raising event. With a little enterprise on your part every month will become Parkinson's awareness month. People will be eager to cure it just to make you go away.

Learn what you can do to take better care of yourself. Whether the Lord helps those that help themselves or not, I do not know. But I am convinced that people are more apt to help out when they see you are trying to make your situation better rather than shrugging your shoulders and waiting for the next blow. Get speech therapy, work those stiff and sore muscles with regular exercise. Eat right. Manage your medication well. Do your research and learn all you can about how you can function more effectively in spite of what this disease will do to drag you under.

Whew, that'll easily fill up a year. A person might be forgiven for wondering if there is no simpler way to inspire interest and compassion from a stressed out over-busy world. Actually there is. But it would be wrong to wish PD on Justin Bieber.


ECleary78 said...

You are such a good writer. I admit I would comment more, but I keep forgetting the sign on for my google account which i use, well only to comment on your blog. I promise to save it somewhere easy to remember and comment more often but I absolutely love the humor you inject to such a dour situation.
I agree completely that YOPD people need to come on out. My husband and I have been trying to start a group here in Dallas but we can't find anybody. They are all in hiding. Sure we've tracked down a couple people, but I know there's more. In the meantime we use blogs like yours to remind ourselves that we are not alone. And by the way, it doesn't have to be justin beiber. Anyone young and famous will do ;p

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Thanks! You are welcome to comment as much or as little as you see fit. It's always a pleasure to hear from readers, especially as I assume many have PD which makes the writing physically a challenge.

I am flabbergasted that you are not able to flush more young-onset people out in a major metro area like Dallas. Maybe it would work out to start with the few people you have and build from there.
I'm glad that you get some value out of the blog. And bully for you you for sticking up for J.B. It's true, anyone young and famous would do. Maybe Hannah Montana?