January 2024

Stopping Time

Tick tock, tick tock

I spend my days trying to stop time. With a disabling and progressive disease, each passing minute is my enemy. Each hour brings me a step farther on the path of loss of dopamine-making neurons from my brain. Those neurons I need to send the messages from my head to my muscles to allow me to move normally, to live without the tremor, muscle stiffness and other symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. I work to slow the inexorable march of cell loss through diet, exercise, and medication, but the beat goes on. 

Tick tock, tick tock

There goes another incremental bit of my ability to control my body.

Tick tock, tick tock, another small step toward dementia, as tangled proteins build up in my head.

Tick tock, tick tock, like water torture the small drip of loss builds over time to feel like a series of hammer blows, tick tock, tick TOCK, TICK TOCK… medication masks the damage, but can’t stop it, and slowly but surely its side effects will be more disruptive than the disease symptoms it now overrides.

One of my first reactions on being given my Parkinson’s diagnosis was ”Haven’t we (and by ‘we’ I mean people smarter and more disciplined than myself) figured out how to lick this disease yet?” After thousands of years contending with this malady, aren’t we due for a cure? How has this much time passed without more substantial progress? With all the scientific firepower at our disposal, did we just forget to cure Parkinson’s? It seems that with all the distractions around, PD somehow slipped our minds, and now we are going to pay, as case rates of Parkinson’s rise skyward along with its toll in human suffering.

Tick tock, tick tock

But here is a Parkinson’s paradox: time, my enemy, is also my friend. Each passing minute brings us closer to the new therapies that will make my symptoms less bothersome, make my life smoother, and my future brighter. Each passing hour brings us closer to a cure.

Tick tock, tick tock 

Another discovery reshapes our understanding of the disease, enabling new solutions to the mysteries of PD.

Tick tock, tick tock

A new form of physical therapy reverses symptoms and seems to slow progression to disability.

 Tick tock, tick tock

 A new type of brain surgery brings promise of relief.

Tick tock, tick tock

I balance my fears with my hopes.

Tick tock, tick tock

Still the hours pass, and still the neurons fail. Minutes turn to hours, hours turn to days, days grow into months, months into years. My steps grow shorter, my voice quieter, my mental agility less nimble, my balance less sure.

Tick tock, tick tock

My tremor spreads to both sides of my body

Tick tock, tick tock

Time goes on like an ocean current, bearing me along. I twist in its grip, first towards despair, then towards hope. I go from trying to stop time to wishing I could speed it up.

Tick tock…

 tock tick.

by Peter Dunlap-Shohl
NW Parkinson’s Blogger

“It is the work of the creative to be a prosthetic imagination for the distracted and the dull”
– Maxwell Hubert Maxwell, playwright, butterfly collector, amateur surgeon and snob.