June 2022

Keeping Parkinson’s in its Place

Parkinson’s Disease seems to leave its fingerprints on every aspect of our lives. It affects our families, our jobs, the things we do in our leisure time, the way we spend our money, our plans for the future, our plans for dinner. It changes the way we experience the world through vision, touch, smell and taste, the way we perceive our place in that world emotionally, the way we see ourselves as actors on the stage of our lives, and the way others see us. PD casts its shadow in ways that seem all-encompassing. 

And why shouldn’t it? It is an adversary to be acknowledged as powerful and implacable. It demands attention and a certain amount of deference. To acknowledging PD’s disruptive presence is only to recognize reality. Parkinson’s becomes a part of you without your consent, but part of you nonetheless. It is useless and counter-productive to argue otherwise. But how big a part of you? What remains of your former life, what do you still have in common with the rest of the world? What needn’t get crowded out by this unwelcome guest?

Plenty. For instance…. 

The muzzle of an affectionate dog looking for a belly rub, the morning song of birds drifting in through an open bedroom window, the sound of children laughing, the warmth of a cat asleep on your lap, the evening light that turns every color into a richer version of its normal hue, the flowering trees that burst forth in spring blossoms, the sight of a river gliding by, sparkling in the late afternoon sun; the stark beauty of a mid-winter snowfall; the ingenious and seemingly effortless perfection of a Bach two-part invention; the unbridled  joy of an early Beatles 45; the mastery of color and light in a Monet painting of a humble haystack; the way cream billows in a cup of coffee; the sound of a friend’s voice on the phone; the touch of a lover in a darkened room; the majesty of the quiet at two in the morning; the painstaking  craftsmanship in a piece of fine woodwork, the yearning celebration of the divine embedded in the architecture of a gothic cathedral; the subtle elegance of a well-designed typeface; the glory of a fiery sunset; the promise in a vivid sunrise; the exhilarating relief of a thunderstorm following  a stretch of hot weather; the optic feast that is a rainbow; the pleasure of reading a good book; the immersive, compelling momentum of a well-made movie; the uproarious joy of a belly laugh; the feeling of calm after a good cry; the stars above on a black night. 

These are just a few of the things, everyday miracles large and small, that Parkinson’s Disease has no power over. They will always be out of its reach no matter how long and powerful its arm may be. They are gifts from the Universe, compensation for all it puts you through, and they exist in places PD can’t go, but where you are welcome.


by Peter Dunlap-Shohl
NWPF Blogger