One of ‘Those’ People

About a week ago, I met one of my neighbors.  They travel a lot in their motor home and had just pulled in from a long stretch. Gone all winter to Arizona and for the summer, they were camp hosts over at Crater Lake.  So, I wasn’t being ‘un-neighborly’.  They are just never there.

I had gone to the mailbox and on the way back my neighbor was standing at the back of his motor home with two other older fellows.  They were chit-chatting or as some say, ‘shooting the breeze’.

I had been singing as I walked and brought it down to humming to myself as I approached the threesome and was about to walk by when my neighbor broke the conversation he was having with his two friends in order to tell me to “Lighten up.  Things aren’t that bad.”

Oh great.  Another one of those people.  Now, I have nothing against ‘those’ people.  I’m not even sure what I mean by ‘those’ people, except to say, they don’t get it.

Some people measure happiness and joy by the smile across someone’s face.  If they’re smiling, they muse be doing great and yet, how many times have you put on a smile for the crowds, meanwhile inside, your world is falling apart?  But – it doesn’t work the same in reverse order.  If you look down, people assume you are down.  They aren’t familiar with the effects of Parkinson’s disease (PD).

Many think that PD is simply an illness that makes a person shake and, it does do that.  However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  Did you (anyone unfamiliar with PD) know that Parkinson’s disease can include (but is most certainly not in the least bit limited to):

  • loss of smell
  • loss of balance
  • stumbling
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • dry eyes
  • lack of muscle control
  • tremors
  • severe pain
  • stiffness? (— to name just a few symptoms.)

So, when my neighbor from across the street interrupted his friends to make his comment about me putting a smile on my face and added, “Now, isn’t that better?,” I was frustrated because I was happy.

So often we think that unless the other person is smiling, something’s wrong.  We assume that something is troubling them.  People with PD have a disadvantage in this area – being able to show on the outside, how they feel on the inside.  A person with Parkinson’s disease often loses his or her smile, as the facial muscles in a PD patient has caused their smile to tighten up and… disappear.  Many people who know nothing about Parkinson’s disease don’t understand that and end up yelling at others to put a smile on their face, if one is missing.  If that weren’t enough, they follow it up with, “Now, isn’t that better?”

Being happy doesn’t mean you walk around with a smile plastered on your face. Many people are smiling on the outside whole dying on the inside.  The next time you see someone who looks lonely, sad, down – ask them how they’re doing.  You might be surprised at their reaction.

Journeying with you,


A Shaky, Beautiful Mess

Pretty Poppy
Pretty Poppy

I received this one day from a friend with PD. I hope you enjoy it.

A fellow person with PD asked if anyone else has felt embarrassed of their PD symptoms in public.  She has noticed that she doesn’t go out in public much anymore for fear of falling or shaking too much, freezing up, etc.

I remember going through a time or two like this and being paralyzed by fear, but by God’s grace and instruction I’ve come to the other side.  The following is my response to her and I wanted to encourage others that might be going through the same thing.

I’ve never had the problem of freezing but I have and still do at times shake so bad that it’s like having the blue light special going off over my head. (It’s an old K-Mart thing.)  Anyway, it makes people stare.  I did get to the point where I almost never left the house for fear of my meds turning off and I would become a slow, stiff, shakey mess and it would be a show for people.

What I’ve learned is I am at times a slow, stiff, shakey mess and that’s okay.  When people look at me or stare I will smile and say hi.  Some will ask if I need something to eat and I’ll smile and say “Oh no, I’m not diabetic.  I have Parkinson’s, but thank you”.  Sometimes my meds will turn off and I’ll find a place to sit and rest, take some extra meds,if needed, and often will find someone to have a conversation with.

I had to learn to accept myself just as I am at any moment if I wanted people to accept me.  These symptoms that scared me also scare others because they don’t know what to do.  I had to be the one to say inside and out, “I’m okay, don’t be afraid – it’s just a moment and I need to rest.”  We are what we are and that doesn’t make us any less of a person for society.

I’ve met and had some wonderful conversations with complete strangers because of situations like these.  I’ve come to realize that sometimes it’s not always about me and the symptoms but someone needed someone to come along and sit and talk with them.  Fear and love are very strong emotions, one kills the soul and the other frees it.  It’s our choice to choose the right one.

We are all valuable people no matter what our bodies do and some will accept that and some won’t but as long as you do – that’s what matters.  Freezing, shaking, slow and all, learn to accept yourself and be thankful for you because you add something special to life that no one else does… YOU!