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Parkinson’s May Break My Bones

Thursday February 20, 2020

Parkinson’s May Break My Bones

 

I knew this was going to happen, and said so. It was only a question of time. But even knowing it was coming, I was helpless to do anything about it. When it did finally happen, I tried to deny it. Minimize it. Act like it was no big deal. I righted my bicycle after the fall, remounted with some difficulty, and carefully rode home, trying to convince myself the pain was just a sprain. Nice try. But there was no getting around the swollen zigzag at the end of my arm. My left wrist had a clean break. It was the second broken bone I have suffered since my Parkinson’s diagnosis.

 

Only a few hours passed before I was in surgery. My misaligned bones are now realigned, and held in place by titanium screws and plates. The screws and plates are protected in turn by a fiberglass cast, which will come off in a few weeks. The rest of the hardware will be with me until the end, souvenirs of Parkinson’s. And it won’t be alone. Thanks to Parkinson's, I will have other artificial parts to accompany me to my final reward. 

 

In addition to the assorted hardware in my wrist, I will have artificial implants in my brain and chest from my Deep Brain Stimulator. I also expect to have additional screws and plates from future broken bones. The only way to avoid this is to resign from life. To give up. To live my remaining time in a padded room in a suit of armor. 

 

I’m too weak to do that.

 

Too weak to not get on my bike and ride, with the breeze cooling me, and the road flying from under my wheels. Too weak not to walk my dog in the woods with the bears and lynx, to watch her charging around some snowy corner, ears flying and tail up. Too weak to give up the pleasure of swimming through the deep, cold water of northern lakes. Too weak to stay home when there is a gallery show or a concert that will be too good to miss. Too weak to not play music until way past my bedtime in some bar with my band mates. Too weak not to try to live my life as close to my pre-diagnosis self as I can. 

 

So I have no choice but to roll the dice with Parkinson's. Today, it allows me to walk with a confident stride. Tomorrow I may find myself mincing across the kitchen, unstable as a card house in a wind tunnel. Today, I may be able to draw a line exactly where I want it to go. Tomorrow it may take me half an hour to approximate on my electronic sketch pad just one short line I see in my head. Today I may be able to speak loudly and clearly, tomorrow, I may be reduced to whispers and slurred mutters. Today I may formulate complete thoughts and sentences with relative fluency, tomorrow I may struggle to articulate a cogent phrase.

 

This is my fate. I cannot and do not reject it. I still have enough of those days when I  am close to being my old self to be grateful for the screws and implants that hold me near to my previous life, life before my Parkinson's diagnosis. I suspect there will be enough of those days in the future to keep going for quite some time.

 

Parkinson’s doesn’t heal. But a broken arm or wrist does, and, so can a broken life, at least, for a time.

Peter Dunlap-ShohlPeter Dunlap-Shohl
NWPF Blogger

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