These newspaper pages began publishing my personal medical insights almost a decade ago, when my medico followed up on what was a self-diagnosis of Parkinson’s that included a left hand that sometimes pretended to be cranking a Model T and other times flailed in mid-soup to dribble on an inoffensive dining table that threatened to transform into a Jackson Pollack tableau of abstract expressionism.

That example of possibly the world’s longest and maybe most tedious sentence was answered with a succinct comment: “Yep, you’ve got it” while I pushed against walls and doors and bookshelves and other convenient and sturdy furniture.

I discovered during that medical appointment the value of oak and similarly hardy woods. And steel posts and concrete columns and quiet walks through area forests filled with eight-inch diameter trunks.

A vague awareness of the disease didn’t prepare me as much as acquaintances who somberly expressed apologies and regrets matched only with dry medical explanations about what the future held.

None of the above foretold of happy sunsets to ride into or the chilly joys of ice skating into brisk winter breezes or foot-flapping new personal bests in summer miles.

The left-handed shakes became more violent and my intake of Parkinson’s pills became more impulsive. Quiet little articles that readers typically smiled through became exposes about what the term “incurable progressive disease” meant to the psyche of a normal adult male too rapidly approaching the milestone birthday “80th“.

That was the introduction to my report: Walking, even typing has become a challenge. There should probably be a descriptive and horrid adjective in front of that verb or noun.

My eyes have dimmed, although some of that squinty myopia is probably the fault of the “Big 80” only writ larger and more dangerous.

Parkinson’s also plays tricks with the voice. I’ve during the past five years learned how softly I’m really speaking as listeners learn that the condition includes more than stumbles and quaking hands. Now what sounds in my ears like a shout is in fact desperately in need of an amplifier such as an occasional bullhorn.

Constant leg cramps from struggling to stay afoot are genuine pains in the thighs.

Every few months my walking safety net fails and my damaged forehead or an ear interrupts my walk through the house, even when a sturdy and willing wall willingly remains bulky and solid inches from my intended path.

Too many notables are subject to the punishment of the disease. Even notables such as Adolph Hitler weren’t immune.

My dependable researcher is a man whom I’ve known since college. Richard without fail shares new information, some of which is remarkably hopeful, and outlines the millions of dollars being poured into medical research.

He even suggests new avenues, such as devotion to a punching bag to help improve motion and timing and other similarly vital methods to beat the disease, pun intended.

Richard’s birthday is identical to mine: Jan. 13, 1940. The retired chemist will get much of the credit when that miracle treatment is discovered and he emails that longed-for curative.

Sooner than later, I hope.

A mild but equally hoped-for discovery postscript. My boss, City Editor Neal Simon also enjoys a birthday each Jan. 13. Jan. 13, 2020. I can’t think of a date and two better guys with whom to share that miracle.

 

Al Bruce covers education issues for The Spectator. From time to time, he writes a column detailing the latest developments of living with Parkinson's Disease.