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Letter: A little patience, understanding for the holidays

Thursday December 25, 2008

Terri Johnson

The News Herald - "We don't care about the young folks talkin' 'bout the young style. And we don't care about the old folks talkin' 'bout the old style, too. And we don't care about our own folks talkin' 'bout our own stuff. All we care about is talking – talking only me and you."
"Young Folk" byy Peter, Bjorn & John

So goes the chorus of a current merry popular song on the radio. I wonder if it has anything to do with our attitude at Christmas?

In this season of shoppers' hustling and bustling, have we forgotten that this happens at a different pace for different ones of us? Some of us, after all, are young, old or not "normal" and just can't always keep up with the pace of modern life.

For instance, I have a disability called Parkinson's disease. I mention this reality, because once I read that Parkinson's patients are their own worse enemies, because we tend to suffer silently. What's wrong with that, one might ask? No one likes a whiner. One consequence of silence, however, may be to try and be invisible, to fit in, to not call attention – no matter the cost.

And there is a cost. It causes research of diseases to fail by not raising enough money to find cures. Parkinson's disease is the leading neurological illness among adults – occurring in more victims than AIDs, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease – but gets far less money for research than these other better-known diseases.

Parkinson's also causes millions of stricken people to hide alone in their homes in order to avoid being seen struggling in public. This leads to shame, isolation and depression. And all that the disabled person may need from others is a little compassion and patience.

Yesterday, in a check-out line in a local store, I was fumbling, as usual, with coins in my change purse. The little beggars just wouldn't come out into my hand so I could hand them to the clerk.

I felt my ears burn. I thought of how I must be perceived by those behind me in line – sloppy, older than my age (which is old enough already), incompetent, stupid, inconsiderate of others who are on a time schedule or all of the above?

The nice young clerk made a genuine effort to help. She carefully sat the bag upwards on the counter and turned the bag's handles out in the direction of my waiting fingers. Thankfully, I was then able to turn and walk, or actually, stumble out.

But I faced another hurdle before I could get to the relative anonymity of my car. The door. It seemed to take forever to shove the stiff door open without dropping my packages.

I heard a man behind me remark, "Well it's a good thing I'm retired!"

To which my polite clerk, to me by now a hero, replied, "Why is that sir?"

He answered in what seemed to me to be a purposely loud voice: "Because of how you have to wait on some people!"

Now I may be too sensitive, and may have misjudged the comment completely, but may I ask, is the world in such a hurry that we can't allow for some understanding or at least quiet respect for another's difficulties?

After all, it's Christmas. Can we not have the hustle and bustle of the season interrupted a few minutes for someone else's sake? Maybe we all could polish up our manners; even sing a new song...

"We care about the young folks... the old folks... our folks... the disabled..."

Recent News

May 20 - Book Review: Aging in the Key of Humor
May 19 - Press Release: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research Joins Multinational Critical Path for Parkinson's Consortium
May 19 - Congress reaches deal to overhaul chemical regulation
May 16 - Lifestyle: Why Parkinson's disease won't stop me rowing across the Pacific
May 16 - Many biomarkers for PD fail to inform on progression
May 10 - Parkinson's Cell Transplant Shows Good Reinnervation at 24 Years
May 7 - Growing art installation gathers stories of living with Parkinson's
May 5 - New technique can provide better cell transplants against Parkinson's disease
May 2 - What's Good For The Heart Is Good For The Brain
Apr 29 - Press Release: FDA approves first drug to treat hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease
Apr 28 - Dopamine-making neurons can be chemically controlled in animal model of Parkinson's
Apr 25 - Lifestyle: Dating with Disease
Apr 25 - Scientific breakthrough in fight against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's
Apr 20 - Breakthrough Parkinson's disease blood test
Apr 15 - Living with Parkinson's
Apr 12 - Tissue biomarker for dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease
Apr 11 - Yoga for Every Body: Experts say yoga can ease pain and improve mobility for people with neurologic conditions
Apr 9 - Commonly prescribed Parkinson's drugs up risk of compulsive gambling, shopping, binge eating, hypersexuality
Apr 7 - Pfizer and IBM Launch Innovative Research Project to Transform Parkinson's Disease Care
Apr 7 - Parkinson's Drug Highly Effective for Resistant Depression