Although I received my diagnosis almost five years ago, people don’t usually pick up on my symptoms in everyday circumstances. I’m an advocate for exercise as medicine. I work out regularly and feel that it has helped me to delay progression of my disease.
So, what should I do if I find myself in the awkward scenario of running into someone who hasn’t seen me recently? Should I quickly duck down the dog food aisle (although let’s face it, nothing is quick anymore), or endure the next few uncomfortable minutes?
Inevitably, the ducking idea fails, and the obligatory conversation begins. How it plays out produces mixed reactions, but primarily a bewildered look of “What?”
It goes something like this:
Unfortunate person who ran into the woman with Parkinson’s: “So, how are you feeling?”
Me: (on the inside: “A rhetorical question, right? You don’t want a truthful answer.”) Aloud, I say, “I’m doing well, thank you for asking.”
Unfortunate person: “Well, you look great.”
At this point, 26 years of wedded bliss to my husband and having raised three sons who all embrace sarcasm begin to show. I save the following witty response for those who know me well enough not to be offended.
Me: (grinning) “Well, I did not get the memo that a Parkinson’s diagnosis meant that I was supposed to look bad, so thank you.”
Then comes the “What?” look, swiftly followed by a laugh, and the elephant in the room isn’t so big anymore.
We managed to find humor in the chat, which lightened the mood. Everyone felt better. After all, I could have answered, “My meds are wearing off, my symptoms are in high gear, and I feel horrible.” That would not be very nice, so I stuck to the lighter side of things.
The bottom line is that we cannot duck down an aisle or cross the street to avoid conversations just because people don’t know what to say to us. It is not due to a lack of concern on their part, but rather a dearth of knowledge.
Find opportunities to educate and inform others about Parkinson’s. If you can manage to do that with a little bit of humor, that’s a bonus for everyone.
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.