The Calm After the Parkinson’s Storm

The Calm After the Parkinson’s Storm

Sherri Journeying Through

This morning I read a Facebook post from a person who is in the early stages of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He listed some of his symptoms and said he was awaiting lab results. He asked whether it’s common for symptoms to differ from day to day and if so, why this happens.

Shortly afterward I checked in with my mother-in-law by text: “A few clouds but nothing like the storm that came down last night! Incredible rainfall and wind. And today, all is calm.” 

All was calm yesterday morning, and then the storm clouds began to gather. They hovered overhead all afternoon; no raindrops, just a gradual darkening of the sky. And then, last night while I was at my boxing class, duking it out with a punching bag, God began to duke it out outside with a horrid rainfall that, on my drive home, caused me to drift into the other lane a few times. I was traveling a good deal slower than the speed limit because of poor visibility and with the force of the wind blowing against me, it was a nail-biting ride.

And then the rain eased, and the wind began to abate. It was over — at least for another day.

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While trying to formulate a response to the person with a Parkinson’s diagnosis, (don’t you remember those unsettling days?), I checked out the weather, which led me to the answer to his cry for help: Having this disease is like “living” the weather. Your doctor is the weather forecaster, but he can only make predictions because no one can foresee how your disease will progress or maybe even regress. Just as the weatherman can’t predict the next tornado or storm, your doctor can only give you an educated guess at what lies ahead.

You’ll probably have heard this one before: Each person’s experience with this disease is different. It’s true: the variations between symptoms, the severity of those symptoms, and the patient’s reactions to medications can be like night and day.

One day you may feel tossed about and nothing seems to help. At other times your meds kick in, and in 20 minutes, or an hour, a day, maybe even a week, you feel “normal” again — or as close to what you remember as normal. 

But there are other days, and thank God for the other days! Days of sunshine, playing with your grandchildren, working in your garden. Days of writing. Perhaps the reprieve lasts for mere hours or minutes, but you grasp every moment you can. Because — and I know you’ve heard this before — none of us are guaranteed today or tomorrow. And not because we have Parkinson’s, but because that is the nature of living. Parkinson’s is not a death sentence; it is an invitation to live your best now.

After the storm, there is calm. The trees have been stripped bare of their leaves by the fierce winds, and the neighbor’s trash cans have blown into your front yard. You stop to listen and realize that the wind no longer whistles as it passes your windowpanes.

It is still. You take a breath. You straighten things up and return the garbage cans that, thankfully, had been emptied before the storm hit. And you thank God the storm is over, if only for today.

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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 Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

11 comments

  1. Teresa Duran says:

    Sherri I want to thank your words, I’m learning a lot from you, I was diagnosed with early PD just 4 months ago and while looking for support I found your post, they have been a great blessing because with your words I am learning from this disease. And the most important thing is to always maintain a positive attitude.

  2. DanS says:

    Living with Parkinson’s now for 14 years, there is one line in this article that sums up my outlook perfectly..”Parkinson’s is not a death sentence; it is an invitation to live your best now.” I am deeply thankful for each day I am given. For having a roof over my head, for clean running water, for electricity, a job, Friends and family that love me and that I love. I have all of my ( shaky ) limbs and most of my sanity. Everything else is just fluff. Life could be so much worse! This disease have taught me to savor each exquisite moment of being alive on this little beautiful blue marble floating in space. It has taught me to be humble, to not judge a person by how they look, to delight in the simple things. To not take things for granted. None of us gets out alive, my unavoidable death is my most trusted adviser on how to truly live. The art of life is to learn how to transform negative energy into positive energy. When you master this, you have mastered your life. The body is temporary, spirit is timeless.

    • Essie says:

      Dan, I only wish my husband would have taken this approach when he was diagnosed 8 years ago with PD. He had symptoms 5 years earlier but refused to see doctor until he fell and had to. Now we have been in this limbo of his depression, dementia and aggressiveness, in addition to the fact that he has heart, kidney and prostate disease. Nothing seems to cheer him, nothing seems to make him happy. He is constantly in the “feel sorry for me” mind and albeit he has health issues, he remains miserable. He has driven our only daughter and her children away by his mean, hurtful remarks and it has been particularly hard not to be able to see them. He now has 24/7 care in our home while I continue to work to be able to afford his medications. He has verbally, emotionally and physically abused me and our daughter and I have documented with reports and pictures. It is almost like he enjoys being miserable. The disease has taken a toll on both of us. He gets up during the night with delusions that are so crazy it scares me. The caregivers have trouble maintaining him when he reaches the aggressive stage. Unfortunately his neurologist has told him that he does not have to go to a home and no one can make him. My husband played in the NFL, golfed, fished and hunted all his life. Once he received the diagnosis he quit living except in his mind. Thank you for sharing and I pray you continue to keep such a great attitude.

  3. I agree with Dan. That line jumped out at me. “Parkinson’s is not a death sentence. It is an invitation to live your best now.” That is so well said! And I love the weather analogy. I don’t know if I have heard PD explained this well. Kudos Sherri!

  4. Dr. C says:

    “The Calm after the Storm” – nice metaphor. I’d like to add that there are signs that the storm is coming, and when it is about to be over. Subtle inner changes that can help you to prepare for that storm, and help to ride through it. And – there are things that can make the effects of the storm feel terrible, like heavy stress, OR make the effects more tolerable, like following a good rehab plan.

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