Black woman in shadows struggles to release herself from ties binding her away from yellow light

Parkinson's: A Malicious Disease

It’s easy to hate a disease like Parkinson’s. There are few things that seem as malicious and designed to cause destruction. I’m not typically someone who sees the world in black in white because there’s usually a lot of grey in between those colors. But when it comes to Parkinson’s, the tint quickly seems pointless and without merit.

When my Dad was diagnosed in 2013, I remember feeling fear. It was the kind of sensation that permeated the whole family, whispering to the darkest corners of our souls. My Dad is commonly seen as a gentle soul who does what he can to help others. And to see Parkinson’s claiming his body seemed like an injustice of the worst kind. My Dad? What did he ever do to anyone? Where was the good in this?

Turning towards religion after diagnosis

In times of great turbulence, many people turn to a God. Though I grew up in a Catholic household, I began rejecting dogma at an early age. It seemed improbable, to me, that there was a grey-bearded man in the clouds who was watching over planet Earth.

I didn’t know what the truth of the matter was, I just knew that I was skeptical of that version of it. So, when Parkinson’s reared its many heads like the mythological Cerberus, I was left with no comfort to lean on. Instead, I became angry at the injustice.

While Dad believed that he was atoning for his sins and Parkinson’s was one way he’d do it, I saw the disease as something that had been done to him. It was a snake, winding its way around his neck for no point at all. And I was powerless to combat it. It was like watching the venom kill the tissue in my Dad but there was no such thing as an anti-venom. The process was slow, painful, and torturous. But neither he nor I could do anything about it.

What nature says about acceptance

As an adult, I’ve spent a lot of time communing with nature. I spend my weekends at the climbing crag, throwing myself at rocks. While I’m in the wilderness, I often see strange wildlife encounters. This Spring, I saw a ptarmigan Mother with several little babies.

When I happened upon the tribe of birds, the Mother feigned injury to lure me away from her children. I had no intention of harming her or her little ones, but seeing her tactic broke my heart. She would try to escape me, but if she couldn’t, she’d still ensure that her children lived. I’ve found that nature is often harsh and relentless.

In the same way that the mother ptarmigan was prepared to embrace a dark reality, my Dad has reached acceptance. Parkinson’s disease sunk its teeth into his flesh, challenging his physical abilities on a daily basis. And where was the good in that?

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