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Inattention

Wednesday August 29, 2018
A sudden stinging pain. A sickening realization: the car door was slammed on the fingers of my left hand. An instant of disbelief, how could this be happening? A struggle to beat back panic that grew with each nanosecond my captive hand was clamped in the merciless metal jaws of the door. A feeling of helplessness when it became clear I could not free myself. An urgent plea to my wife to OPEN THE FREAKIN’ DOOR!!!

No matter how many layers of bubble wrap you cover yourself with, no matter how carefully you choose your seat, no matter how deliberately you plan your route, there will be a moment when you let your defenses down. You might be too tired to notice the warning signs. You might be distracted by an attractive nuisance. Perhaps it plain may not occur to you that leaving your hand in the path of a door that might suddenly slam shut is a recipe for a pain sandwich. Or you may simply forget to keep your guard up, and then boom!
 
You are rudely reminded of you vulnerability.

This is true of anyone, but the consequences of inattention are more grave if you already have a serious condition like Parkinson’s Disease. Fall from a moment’s distraction, and you may break a hip. Then it’s off to the hospital, which as my father (a doctor) was fond of pointing out is no place for a sick person. Next thing you know you’re fighting for your life with an infected bed sore, and they’re measuring you for a coffin.

The thing is, not only is it impossible to avoid the vagaries of life, the random disasters of the universe, and plain old bad luck, even attempting to avoid them requires a level of paranoia that most of us can’t sustain. I don’t want to live a life of constantly sizing up situations for worst-case scenarios, and waiting for asteroids to drop out of the sky. Living in a cringe can lead to all kinds of leg-cramps, and besides, it’s exhausting. If I’m going to be exhausted, I want it to be from spending too much time on my bicycle, or from staying up too late playing music with friends. I sure don’t want to waste my time on the weariness that comes from hand wringing 24-7-365.

And speaking of wringing hands, my wife finally reached the release for the stubborn door that refused to relinquish my stinging fingers. I jerked my hand free, and gave it a close, cautious inspection, fearing the worst. The inspection yielded the joy of finding my fingers were still attached to my hand, and even more miraculously, were apparently still quite operative, having somehow escaped serious damage in spite of deep pinch marks. They have gone on to stage a complete recovery.

So it was a reminder. Bad things will happen unforeseen, painful and unpreventable. But maybe we are not as fragile as we think, Parkinson’s Disease and all. With Parkinson’s, I fall far more often than I ever thought I would. And it can be scary and consequential. But along with that, there is something else also unforeseen. I may fall more often than I would without PD, but I get up more often, too.

Peter Dunlap-ShohlPeter Dunlap-Shohl
NWPF Blogger

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2018
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