Marriage and Parkinson’s Disease

Marriage and Parkinson’s Disease

On this day, the day of my anniversary, I write this story to remember the day that I said, “I do” to my betrothed. So why should this anniversary be any different? It is in fact been 11 years since I mentioned to my neurologist that I was getting married to a wonderful woman from the state of Tennessee. Normally, such things are made into movies you’d see on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime. The funny thing is when I mentioned it during one of my follow up appointments with my doctor, he was less than enthusiastic. His whole demeanor changed and he got a serious look on his face. I’ll never forget the words that he spoke. “I don’t think two people with Parkinson’s disease should get married.” Excuse me? Really? It took me a minute to process what he just said and it left me wondering, was this a professional opinion or was he just being overly cautious? Therefore I will, in my opinion, answer the question as to whether two people living with Parkinson’s should get married.

Should people living with PD get married?

In the wise words of my wife, “you can’t help who you fall in love with.” I interpret that to mean that if cupid has you in his crosshairs; well let’s just assume that he seldom misses his intended target. So back to the question: Should people living with PD get married? I’m sure there has to be a clinical reason for avoiding such an intimate relationship with one or more people diagnosed with PD. Something to do with gene transfer or other biological red flags. I may not know much about the science of passing on a chronic illness through the proverbial “gene pool” that could lead to having children who are carriers of the PD gene but that doesn’t mean they will be diagnosed; however, I do understand the dynamics of love and the euphoria of finding a soulmate with whom you desire to share a life and what a life we share. So when questioned about whether you should or shouldn’t, I believe it is a personal decision. One that has been considered carefully and discussed with one another and mutually agreed upon. My wife and I have continued to live out our vows for 11 years, and we know other couples who have similar relationships where one or both have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Care provider and patient

It’s hard for a healthy person to care for another living with Parkinson’s especially when the symptoms advance. Often, there needs to be an intervention, evidently from family or placement in a care facility. After all, PD is a progressive illness and there still isn’t a known cure to date. We can stave off the onslaught of debilitating effects through exercise, nutrition, and proper treatments but the sad news is there is no cure. The question becomes, as the disease progresses and both develop more advanced symptoms, what happens now?

What happens now?

The one takeaway if you don’t get anything else from this is that no one case of Parkinson’s is the same. That being said, in the example of my wife and me, her symptoms are more complex and debilitating than mine; therefore, I take on the role of care partner and rely on my strengths: dishes, laundry, shared cooking, etc. and vice versa. She utilizes her strengths: dealing with bill collectors, med refills, talking on the telephone, etc. We each bring different skill sets to our relationship and sometimes they overlap, but however crazy they may seem and uncoordinated they appear, it works for us. I encourage everyone living with PD or caring for someone with PD to communicate their needs, yes but also things that you are able to do yourself. Can people living with Parkinson’s get married? Working together as a team works for us and it can work for you. Cupid was right on target.

Happy Anniversary to my life partner and soulmate!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (5)
  • PolishPeg
    7 months ago

    Your marriage sounds like it’s more sharing and caring than many two healthy partners relationship. My husband was diagnosed 8 years ago and the disease is progressing but he does what he can and I help all I can. Congratulations and keep the love flowing.

  • Michael Church author
    7 months ago

    There are lots of good resources available. 10 years ago that wasn’t always the case. A good source library of books can be found on: http://viartis.net/parkinsons.disease/news.htm Of course I must plug my own works. A book written with my wife about a broader view of Parkinson’s, “Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease – what your doctors don’t tell you.” Seriously, there are tons of books written by medical professionals, researchers and those living with PD. Its your choice.

  • Michael Church author
    7 months ago

    Thanks Donna! I wish you the very best on your search for answers. Feel free to reach out to Parkinsonsdisease.net anytime. Thanks again for your comment.

  • Donna1947
    7 months ago

    I really enjoyed reading your story. It is indeed a blessing to find your soulmate. As you so expertly explained your journey with your life mate, it touched my heart.
    We just learned that my husband has early stage PD. Neurological issues have touched many of his family members. I am now on this research/educate myself path so that I can assist my hubby in any way if or when it becomes necessary.
    Congratulations on your anniversary.

  • Donna1947
    7 months ago

    Can you or anyone recommend any outstanding books on the PD subject? Preferably easy to read, comprehend, and for patients and caregivers beginning the PD journey!
    Thanks to everyone!

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