I wrote this mostly for my fellow People with Parkinson’s (PwP). Because of the treatments available to us these days, now more than ever before we can lead fairly normal lives. How can we take advantage of that to help society at large, and ultimately us?
Because of the treatments available to us today, we can lead fairly normal lives. But what do we do with the valuable time we have been given back? We PwP often encourage one another to spend our time exercising. Exercise, after all is one of the ingredients in our treatment recipe. So we should all be exercising. Got it.
Exercise is powerful medicine for us Parky’s. In fact, many a Parky goes on to find purpose in exercise itself as a personal trainer. Then, by simply doing their jobs they are simultaneously beating back Parkinson’s and making money. Clever. But maybe the occupation of “exercise” has reached a saturation point? After all, shining examples such as Paul Cluff, Jimmy Choi, and others have demonstrated to us that we are all capable of living well through exercise. But once we have mastered using exercise as part of our treatment, what then? For the truly exemplary athletes, they are able to demonstrate to the world the athletic prowess a Parky is capable of, despite Parkinson’s. But honestly, we can’t all be Jimmy Choi.
What are the rest of us to do? I’ve heard that so many of us Parky’s, despite the plethora of effective treatments available to us today, are miserable. Is it time to change our idea of what living well with Parkinson’s looks like?
May I offer that it’s ok to simply be a normal contributing member of society? In fact, when you think about it, shouldn’t that really the end goal for most of us?
I would suggest that perhaps it’s time to emphasize to a greater degree than I’ve seen that we as PwP should be encouraging one another to add value to society simply by being exemplary members of society That is, by being a good spouse, parent, neighbor, and employee.
My family knows I’m not perfect. But despite my normal human failings as well as the challenges of chronic illness, they also know I love them more than anything and I’m always in their corner. I’m always doing my best to spend as much time with them as I can whether it be playing games, helping with Math homework, or simply goofing off.
As for my job, at this point, everyone I work with has seen me struggle. But they also know that I’m bringing my best self every. time. Do I always love my job? Of course not. But overall maybe one of the reasons I feel so fulfilled and generally satisfied with life is because of the contentment and sense of purpose I get from my job? I’ve heard that there are many Parky haters out there. My experience working in the general population has been one of curiosity, encouragement, and acceptance.
By building a solid foundation as contributing members of society, I think that we can ultimately have more leverage to exact the changes we all want and need so badly. Ultimately leading to a cure. Also, perhaps there would be fewer miserable Parky’s if we shifted our focus a bit to glorifying the incredible feat of overcoming Parkinson’s and going on to be a valuable member of the community at large.
What better way to help direct money towards a cure than by demonstrating that we are worth the investment.
What was is that JFK said about civic duty?