A pair of friends talk at a table in grayscale, while colorful flowers symbolizing their pasts bloom behind them

So, Really Who Are You?

"Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up." - Ann Bradford

This quote stuck with me for a couple of days. And it reminded me of conversations I had with another person with Parkinson’s disease (PD).

About a month ago I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for years. When I told her about my Parkinson’s, she replied that her husband Jim also had Parkinson’s.

She asked if I’d like to talk to him. We people with PD need all the support we can get and give all the support we can muster. So, I agreed to meet him.

Our first meeting

Jim was retired from being an attorney a few months before this. I am still in my current profession as a writer.

Our first meeting was, as one would expect, a conversation about our symptoms. Jim decided to retire when he began to have serious issues with word finding. This had started recently for me as well.

We both had balance issues and needed to use walkers and sometimes wheelchairs. We both had quit driving and were brought to cafes by our spouses. We agree this was the most disturbing PD response.

Updates on our condition

We continued to meet every few weeks. But the topic of our conversation hadn’t really changed. Meeting after meeting we gave updates on our condition: downtime from meds; how many things we dropped; did we fall; are our caregivers getting more frustrated with us.

We talked about our quality of sleep, the latest doctor’s visit, our writing getting so small we, let alone our caregivers or anyone else, could read. We shared updates on new meds and how people relate to us since the diagnosis and vision problems.

These meetings were just about the only time Jim and I left our homes. He spent most of his time reading and watching TV in his lounger between naps. I spent nearly 10 hours tucked away in my writing place fighting off sleepiness.

New introductions

Then I found the quote above, and I started to think. What did we know about each other besides our diagnosis? Jim was a really bright guy, but we never talked about the long successful career he had before PD or anything else not PD related.

I had never talked about what I was writing, a book I published or the current one in the last revision stage. I really wanted to know why this was the case.

I was surprised to hear, when I brought this up at our next meeting, That Jim had been thinking about this also. So, we started a new conversation, new introductions.

Jim: “Hi, I’m a retired attorney.”
Me: I’m Pat a former therapist and now an author. Glad to meet you”

Changing the topic

At that meeting not a word was spoken about PD, even though I knocked my coffee over and on to Jim. We just laughed.

So, we decided to alter the quotation: "Tell the negative Parkinson’s committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up." So far it has worked.

An attorney and author meet for coffee.

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