Posted by: PD Warrior | January 21, 2016

The Long And Winding Road

It has been almost two years since my last post, and much has happened. I am older, albeit not necessarily wiser. I am weaker in some ways, yet stronger in others. I don’t have as much time to stop and think as I would like, and yet, sometimes I think too much.

My wife and I decided a week or so ago that we would try to make the journey back to NYC this April to participate in the Parkinson’s Unity Walk in an effort to raise awareness about Parkinson’s Disease, the effects it has on not only those of us who have the disease, but also those that are near and dear to us. And of course to raise money for Parkinson’s research.

And that got me thinking…

I don’t remember exactly when we made the first trip, it was within a year or two of my being diagnosed with PD, but I remember vividly what an eye-opener it was for me. I took lots of baggage with me that year.

No, not the kind you pack your clothes in.

The baggage I took was much heavier than that.

I took a lot of fear and anger with me. Fear of what the future would bring. Fear that I would not be able to support my wife and children for much longer. Fear that I would have to give up everything that I held dear in my life. Fear that my wife and children would resent me for the changes that we would all be facing. Fear that I was going to be mugged, stabbed and run over by a bus or subway train – it was New York City, after all – I had never been there before in my life, and truth be known, until then, had no desire to go there at all. I had heard that the Big Apple was noisy, dirty, rude, full of crime and all sorts of loathsome things. And we all know that everything you see on TV, read in the papers and see on the internet is absolutely true.

Then there was the anger. I was angry at life for giving me this disease. I was angry at myself for getting this disease. I was angry at God for letting me have this disease. I was angry at the doctors that misdiagnosed me at first (there is nothing really wrong with you, it’s all in your head, don’t you know you are too young to have PD?) I was angry at the people who felt sorry for me. I was angry at the people who didn’t feel sorry for me, and everyone else I met along the way.

I approached that first trip with the idea that I was going to hate NYC, and that I was going to be the only one there who had it so bad. I was going to be the only one there with struggles, and I was going to show the world!

I had no clue what I was going to show the world, but… I…was…going…to…show…the…world!

Wow was I wrong.

I did not show the world. Instead the world showed me.

First, I fell in love with NYC right from the very second I stepped off the plane. The sights, the sounds, the atmosphere, the people, the culture, the architecture, the art. Everything. Hook, line and sinker. The people were friendly. The city was amazing, and best of all- I didn’t get mugged or run over by any form of public transportation. As for my first NYC cab ride? Well, that’s a story for another day.

Then there was the Unity Walk itself.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one in the world with Parkinson’s Disease.

Central Park was filled to the brim with literally thousands of fellow Parkies. And guess what? I didn’t have it nearly as bad as many of the people I came across. And, what’s more, it didn’t seem as if any of them were angry. I didn’t see any “woe is me” attitudes. I didn’t see anyone giving up on life. Instead I saw thousands of people united for a cause, electrified, proud to be there doing whatever they could do, celebrating that they could do it. And like the Grinch on Christmas morning, my heart grew.

That was almost 10 years ago, and as I said in the beginning, much has changed. Life has gone on. I’m a little older. I’m a little slower. I’ve learned a few things a long the way, forgotten a few things more. And that’s okay. With the help of my wonderful wife, my amazing children and my beautiful grandchildren, I have come to realize the most important thing of all:

“I may have Parkinson’s Disease, but it does not have me!”

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