Ducking Down the Dog Food Aisle to Avoid Awkward Conversations

Lori DePorter avatar

by Lori DePorter |

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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.


Sia avatar


I get your drift and I too approach life in a positive way where possible. However it is an uphill climb at times. And my pain is written all over me partially disguised with a fake smile.


What you said is the reason one of my favorite quotes is "Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Plato
Keep your positive attitude.

Linda Garren avatar

Linda Garren

I love Plato's saying. It's something I often think about as I'm out and about.

Great column, Lori. Keep it up! :-)



Thank you!

Linda Garren avatar

Linda Garren

I agree with you both. I've found for myself when I'm fumbling something I'm trying to handle (for instance, at the grocery store at checkout) or have asked someone a question that I realize was not worded clearly, I'll smile (and sometimes laugh a little), just say that I'm sorry and state that I have Parkinson's Disease that sometimes affects me cognitively (or physically or whatever the circumstance is). That's all it takes, and almost every single time their reply is "That's ok." And life goes on from there.

I love Plato's saying and is something I always think about when with or around other people.



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