The other day I stood at my window and watched a man walk down the street. He looked suspitious and he was walking funny. Suspitious because he was checking out every house as he passed by each one and was a bit unkept. Walking funny because he seemed a bit off balance, as if he may have stopped by the local tavern before taking his walk.
I voiced my thoughts verbally to husband who was in the room with me. The moment my judgmental words escaped through my lips, I knew I had made a mistake.
Ten minutes later the same man came walking back and checked out the neighbors front yards and carports, still seeming a bit off balance in his gait. And then he turned up one of the driveways a few houses down and I realized who it was.
Not a stranger, casing houses while the occupannts were away from home, but someone who I didn’t recognize as he’s gone 80% of the time, traveling for his work. And he has a funny walk that makes him look a little off balance, but because I don’t know him well and don’t see him often, I didn’t know it was him and erroneously passed judgement.
I am my own worst advocate.
How many times have I read about the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and how they are misinterpreted by mis- or uninformed individuals who judge what they know very little of? How many times have I fallen victim to such ignorance?
And yet, there I stood at my window, heaping ignorance upon ignorance as I wondered if the man I was observing was snockered. Just as soon as I had voiced it, as I said earlier, I knew I had done the same thing all those people do when they ask, “What’s wrong with you? You never look happy anymore.” (In reference to the stone face syndrome.) Or, “Do I really make you that nervous?” (In reference to shaking/trembling while holding a conversation with a friend.)
They (‘those’ people) don’t know any better.
If I am going to be an effective advocate for Parkinson’s disease, I need to not be doing what would be expected from someone who is uneducated in PD – making assumptions as to why someone is behaving, acting, moving, or speaking a certain way. There are so many invisible diseases and the truth is, you never know who is fighting what.