We all are surrounded by people who mean well, people who don’t mean to come across as ignorant, but who are, nonetheless, ignorant. Especially when they are representing health agencies. There is a European agency that runs similarly to the Social Security Administration and assesses individuals needing help financially and in other ways. This agency recently questioned a Parkinson’s disease patient named Michael Gibson.
As inews.co.uk reported: “Michael Gibson was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when he was just 18. But despite Parkinson’s being a serious, progressive neurological illness with no known cure, the 36-year-old from Chorley says assessors who were deciding whether he could keep his mobility car asked him when his condition would clear up.”
And that is the stupid question of the day.
The assessor should have done his homework. Had he done his homework, the assessor would have known that Gibson’s condition would never “clear up.” Acne clears up. Dandruff clears up. Chronic diseases like Parkinson’s not only don’t clear up, but they progressively worsen.
But, I’ll give the assessor the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it was his first assessment and he just didn’t know better. Perhaps Mr. Gibson wasn’t showing the telltale signs of the disease.
Ah, but there’s the catch. The assessor knew Michael had Parkinson’s disease, but wasn’t wise enough to do some research about the disease before making his house call. Had he done so, he would have easily known that Michael might look great, but quite possibly was having his worst day ever.
Parkinson’s is one of those diseases they label as “invisible.” Not everyone shakes or drools so that others will know. Not everyone flings about so that others may stare. No, some of those who don’t do any of the above may have incessant pain that refuses to quit.
Other symptoms can include, but are not limited to: A reduced sense of smell, gastrointestinal and/or urinary issues, a drop in blood pressure that occurs upon standing, excessive salivation, excessive sweating, disturbances in sleep and wakefulness, fatigue, REM sleep behavior (acting out dreams while asleep), restless leg syndrome, mood changes, cognitive changes, sexual dysfunction, musculoskeletal pain, nerve pain, pain due to dystonia (prolonged twisting or muscle contractions), discomfort due to restlessness, pain syndrome, weight loss/gain, vision problems, dental problems, skin problems, muscle stiffness and rigidity, and more.
Sounds fun, huh?
How do you explain to someone like an uneducated assessor something that the medical community still doesn’t fully understand? How do you explain to them that though they may not see the pain, watch the nightmares nightly with you, and fear traveling because of the urinary and gastrointestinal issues you deal with, that the disease is real and real help is needed.
I suspect Michael Gibson wasn’t angry at the assessor’s question as much as he was frustrated — frustrated to have to explain that he isn’t faking a disease that takes a little more of him day by day, in response to a stupid question like, “So, how long until you get over this ailment, Mike?”
Not soon enough, buddy. Not soon enough.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Todayor its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s Disease.