If you are looking for the Saturday Afternoon Book Club, click here. Sometimes I find inspiration in unlikely places. Take Leslie Davidson for instance. She penned a lovely piece for Canadian Living a few years ago about being a teacher and all the lovely gifts that her students had bestowed on her over the years. Her favourites? “The cards covered with hearts and smiling faces, or dinosaurs and logging trucks, and even someone’s very best exploding bombs,” she said. “I have treasured every misspelling of my name, every backward letter. At least once I was called a reilly god teacher...Bless the heart of every parent who encourages and doesn’t interfere as their children pour their love onto paper with glue and glitter, balm for a weary teacher’s spirit.” We loved it and our readers loved it. [caption id="attachment_15494" align="aligncenter" width="80"] April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.[/caption] Then she wrote another piece, when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. And so, in honour of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, I am offering it today. Because when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, it is a tough pill to swallow and get your head around. And yet, we do. It is a testament to the human spirit and our will to live that we do go on. And learn to live with it, getting through bad days and cherishing good ones. And face it with a sense of humour. Because you have to laugh sometimes.
I Just Want to Go Home
By Leslie DavidsonThree weeks into my diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease, I wake up with the thought, “I just want to go home.” Home, back to where I belong, navigating through familiar territory with confidence in my ability to experience and enjoy. I try to be realistically optimistic and to learn everything I can about the disease, though sometimes the knowledge of what lies ahead is anything but empowering. I am loved and supported but I still feel lost in a bewildering landscape, a 60-year-old Alice, landing with a rude bump at the bottom of the rabbit hole. When an abrupt CT Scan technician scolds me for not lying still, I almost laugh out loud.“Lady,” I want to tell her, “I’ve got a tremor! Why the hell do you think I’m here?” I knock over a wineglass just as I start to fill it. I call to my husband, “Do you think people who are not steady enough to pour wine should still be drinking it?” That makes us both laugh, my husband because he knows the answer, and me with relief that, after days of out-of-nowhere tears, I am finally finding humour in the random stupidity of the disease. Emotional lability is a Parkinson’s symptom. As someone who has always laughed and cried extraordinarily easily, it concerns me. I haven’t started taking medication yet and typing is already an issue as my left hand spasms and jumps on the keyboard. I’m anxious about how challenging my writing hobby is going to become. I have always been a compulsive blessings counter, an effective strategy for staving off the blues, most of the time. Yet, in the space of a moment, I panic about my chance of developing Parkinson’s related dementia, and whether or not I will be able to apply mascara when the PD hits my right side. My charter membership in The Shallow Person’s Club seems as significant a factor as any serious medical prognosis. My interior world is new and chaotic. And, though I know I live a blessed life, I am terrified. I just want to go home. Recently I asked Leslie to send me an update: My left hand vibrates, enthusiastically at times, but I can still type. Stairs and downhill walking can be tricky when I am fatigued but that’s what railings and hiking poles are for. A strenuous morning workout and lots of outdoor walking help me keep the pills, and their long-term side effects, to a minimum. Family, friends and laughter tame the fear-monster. I have connected to so many incredible support systems. And I have become a grandmother! I am home. Thank you Leslie for your honesty in sharing your story with us. And continued best wishes for your health. How about you? Are you like Leslie? Are you a compulsive blessings counter?