“Anybody can do this when your body works properly” Those are the words I recall frequently exclaiming indignantly to myself as I watched my peers cruise through life seemingly effortlessly as I struggled to do pretty much anything. That included simply walking, talking, and managing to not have a nervous breakdown. I struggled with these things particularly badly when travelling for work. Of course, I obviously knew there was something terribly wrong. Lack of arm swing, leg dragging so badly through the airport it was as if I were pretending to be a galloping horse. Terrible stiffness, crushing fatigue. “what the HELL is wrong with me?” I would often wonder…trying to fight down the stiffness, pain, and rising anxiety. Anxiety so bad that I had anxiety about getting anxiety. Spend enough years ignoring pain and fighting your own body and your brains fight or flight response goes haywire and sounds the alarm at the slightest provocation. I would have to fight off panic attacks to get on a plane, go to the store, go to work, go to a friends house…pretty much anything. As my ability to function rapidly deteriorated I stubbornly ignored the ever worsening yet maddeningly intermittent symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
I mean no offense really but I don’t think you can even imagine the misery unless you lived it. Trying to behave like a normal adult while enduring this was…. nearly impossible. My life was pretty much a living Hell. Mercifully, I was finally diagnosed and started treatment. But even though I rapidly improved, the memory of that intense suffering caused me to ask to not travel for work for fear of experiencing that trauma. But after three years, I recently finally travelled for work once again. And I’m glad I did.
Parkinson’s when bad enough and left untreated is absolutely miserable. You can’t walk, you have trouble talking, you’re anxious, you’re extremely tired, you just can’t actually focus on really anything let alone work. Being on travel just makes all the symptoms that much worse. But when Parkinson’s is properly treated, it’s a whole different experience. In fact, I was very productive and had a great time. Travelling with Parkinson’s Disease IS still more challenging than without. Being a movement disorder, my body doesn’t always move right and sometime I can easily lose my balance. So I have to be a little careful not to get injured. Also, I tend to fatigue easily at times and often don’t handle temperature extremes very well. Finally, I still have some trouble walking and have some trouble speaking clearly and audibly at times as well. So I generally just have to pay close attention to my body and take a little extra care. But it was so totally worth it!
When I think back to those miserable times I had trying to get through life under the challenges I faced, now knowing how it could have been can make me feel like I missed out a bit. I now can see that I was so busy fighting off symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that didn’t really enjoy what could have been some of the best times of my life. But it’s not really helpful to think that way. Besides, going through that made me the very unique person that I am today. Probably one of the nicest guys you’ll probably never meet…because I’m also pretty reserved. But if you do get a chance to know me you’ll see that I have a heart of gold and a spirit that’s been through some shit. If you do ever get the chance to travel with me just know that I’ll be thoroughly enjoying the experience, having an almost fully functional body.