It Isn’t Over Till It’s Over

Information is the best medicine. Those who make uninformed decisions do so at their own peril.

I play golf every week with a couple of other Parkies - my age, sixty-six. The course we play is in a canyon that opens up to the Pacific Ocean in South Laguna Beach, California. It really is a slice of heaven, especially because we get to walk the course, at our own pace. What a way to start two mornings per week.

Not long ago we were waiting to tee off on the first tee when another golfer made his way over to ask if he could join us, since we were only a threesome that day. We were happy to have him join us, and informed him that it was his turn to hit, and off we went.

As we strolled down the first couple of fairways, I grilled the newcomer on where he was from, why was at that particular golf course on this particular day, and what did he do for a living. It turns out he was attending a health conference in Irvine, nearby, he was from Los Angeles, was retired and made his living playing the drums. Nobody, I thought, makes a living play the drums, do they?

He told me the name of some of the musicians he’d been associated with, and I was floored. It all checked out too. I checked his story on YouTube. He was all over YouTube. Since I was musician myself, albeit an amateur one, I was quite thrilled to be in the presence of such an accomplished pro.

Inspiration is everywhere

At the seventh hole, one of my buddies whiffed his shot. It wasn’t pretty. I informed our guest that the bad shot was probably due to Parkinson’s disease. “Parkinson’s?” he said. “He has Parkinson’s disease?” “Yes,” I said, and informed him that between the three of us we had twenty-four years of the disease.

Our new fourth was in shock. I thought he was just shocked because the three of us did not look the part. But what I found out, about one minute later, was that our friend was stunned because his best friend, another musician had, only days prior, tried to commit suicide after getting a diagnosis of PD himself. Our new golfing friend commented, “God must have brought me here to see this, three guys all with long-term cases of PD, and all out playing a round of golf." He said we were inspiring. I didn’t argue the point.

The first year is the hardest

It is very typical for newly diagnosed PD patients to spend the whole first year waiting to die and being very depressed about the prospects. After that first year, most Parkies wake up and realize there is a whole lot of living left to do and they find ways of integrating the disease into their life.

Help where you can

Our new fourth asked me if I would be open to receiving a phone call from the newly diagnosed musician. He, on the other hand, could not wait to offer proof to his friend, that a life is not over just because one has PD. He asked for a group picture at the end of the game, and we were glad to oblige.

Days later I accepted a telephone call from the newly diagnosed friend. I explained to him the different medications, lifestyle adjustments, and the “brain gear” (Deep Brain Stimulators) one could deploy to make life more normal.

Do the math

I told him also about a lady I met, who after 30 years of PD was still doing important medical research on Alzheimer’s and was taking a fist full of pills everyday so she could still participate. Oh, by the way, this lady got diagnosed when she was sixty years old. Do that math!!

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