To Go or Not to Go - Apathy Has Set In

I have become consumed by apathy about a planned trip to Europe this coming fall. To be precise, it’s Amsterdam for 4 nights, then onto Budapest, Vienna, Monaco, and Provence for a total of 11 nights, then to Paris for 4 nights, and finally London for 3 nights. We’ll fly to NY and fly back to California from there.

I love Amsterdam (I lived there for 7 months back in the early 70’s as a long-haired guitar-playing hippy in a loft), and Paris is my all-time favorite city in the world. I have absolutely no interest in the rest, and in fact, I could be quite happy with my memories of gallivanting around Paris and Amsterdam in my youth.

No more culture please

I have seen every museum, cathedral, and art gallery I need or want to see. I have been to a lot of great places that just hold no interest for me anymore. It’s the apathy that eventually visits itself on nearly everyone with Parkinson’s disease.

Apathy is a killer

I should know better too. I lectured PD Support groups in southern California on the danger of ”dopamine deficient apathy.” I instructed people on how to spot apathy settling in, and the ultimate danger it has for us Parkinson's patients. Without dopamine, one’s ability to anticipate a positive outcome - or positive value - from a choice becomes a powerfully bad influence in one’s overall decision-making process. The default becomes “negative” or “no,” and that is not good.

Negative decisions become everyone’s problem

When a Parkinson's patient (or "Parkie" as I sometimes like to call us) goes into “no” mode, their decisions can often be at odds with their care partner, who is usually a spouse. Those negative choices affect everyone, not just the one making the “negative” choice.

But, I promised my wife I would muster up the strength to take her one more time, and a promise is a promise. Or is it?

I have begun another level of health failure (ah, just in time). My meds don’t last as long as they used to, and I suffer from restless leg syndrome, dystonia, neuropathy, and dyskinesia, on top of the regulation PD symptoms. We will be traveling first class, which would help a great deal, but I am not very communicative anymore, having lost most of my verbal annunciation. I slur so bad, people have a hard time understanding me. So even first-class travel isn’t as comforting or fun as it could be. And I am probably one good pneumonia away from real trouble, and airplanes are not safe from a pneumonia attack.

Life and death

To top it off, I have everything I need right here, the comfort of my beautiful home, all my toys (computers and musical instruments), and all my friends, including my all Parkie foursome at the golf course. Have you seen the weather in southern California near the ocean? It won’t be this nice in heaven (not that I am planning that trip either).

Ya, I know, it sounds like a whole lotta whining from a spoiled brat (that would be correct), but as bad off as I am health-wise, my life is as good as it gets, and going on this trip feels like a break in the continuity of that lifestyle. Oh, oh, that’s apathy rationalizing my negative decision with positive, alternative thoughts.

I think I will probably end up making the decision to go or not based on that most famous of decision-making methods, “happy wife, happy life.”

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