I never really knew about it. Parkinson’s. But to tell you the truth, if someone mentioned it the first thought that comes to mind is Michael J. Fox. For those of you not familiar with Parkinson’s, it’s a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects motor skills. The symptoms come on slowly over time, and the most obvious physical changes are shaking, rigidity, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking.
I know these things now because one day, there I was, sitting in the doctor’s office and the doctor was telling my mom that yes, she was suffering from Parkinson’s. And the pieces started to add up, the light bulb went on… all those little things I had attributed to coincidence, to the general aging process, was in fact Parkinson’s taking hold. Her body was transforming, not responding, stiffening. The falls on the sidewalk on the way to my house; opening the door to see her standing there with my dad’s handkerchief against her bloodied face. The burn marks on her arms from cooking, as the tremors caused her to touch the hot surfaces. The instances in her garden pulling veggies when she wouldn’t be able to balance herself or get back up from the ground. The slowing of her pace, noticeably slower than she used to be. Her left arm growing useless: a significant disability.
Still, this knowledge, and finding a doctor that specialized in Parkinson’s disease, to provide us with proper care, is allowing my mom to live a somewhat normal life. Sure, there’s no more drinking red wine, she can’t eat those rich, wonderfully sharp, hard Italian cheeses anymore, and her voice is sometimes not more than a whisper, but it IS manageable. There is still life in her eyes: she pushes for more and more information, and uses everyday chores like kneading dough as her physical therapy, and sings as loud as possible as her voice therapy, strengthening her vocal chords.
Working at PinMart has been great too because I get to voice my support with all the pins I need! Lapel pins go a long way, especially wearing Parkinson’s disease lapel pins on my jacket or lapel. I’m often tapped on the shoulder and asked “Hey, I can’t help but notice your pin: where do I get one?” or “Who has Parkinson’s in your family? My dad was recently diagnosed. What doctor do you see, or care facility do you use?”
It’s important that for those suffering, fighting, and surviving, to know that I am in your corner, I am your supporter! I am my mom’s number one fan, as I’m sure everyone helping a loved one with their struggles is. I get it. So wear Parkinson’s disease lapel pins, or if not that, something you stand for, have passion in, support for and believe in, and see how others view hope through your eyes!