Person using a walker on a cobblestone path with 2 bubbles in the forefront; one of a hand rubbing the other, and one with a temperature gauge

It Began in Europe

Two years ago, we were traveling to London, Florence, Venice, and Rome. I was having some back pain when walking even a short difference, so determined to go on this trip, I used a walker with a seat. This allowed me to stop frequently and sit.

These cities were unusually hot when we were there - 90 plus degrees, 90 plus humidity. Some strange physical issues developed on the trip. My hands and legs would shake uncontrollably multiple times a day.

I attributed it to muscle weakness from all the walking in the heat and trying to control the walker over the uneven cobblestone streets and sidewalks.

The changes started

When I discussed this with my primary care doctor, she suggested I see a neurologist. That visit foreshadowed that something would soon be different in our lives.

“You have Parkinson’s,” he said. And just like that, the changes began. I didn’t realize I was going to hit a metal sign when I parked my car. I basically sliced off part of the passenger side bumper.

I began having trouble parking, often straddling two spaces. I decided I needed to quit driving and sadly gave my precious car to my grandson.

I began to shuffle my feet when walking and my handwriting became so small, I could barely read it- both signs of Parkinson’s. I began to have dizzy spells. That added Vertigo to my symptoms.

Losing my independence

Late afternoon is most often when the symptoms worsen. I can still make dinner, but often get frustrated and need help. When things are bad and the shaking is not controlled, my husband makes a dinner of eggs and bacon, the only thing he knows how to cook. We’ve had many eggs and bacon dinners.

The combination of losing the ability to drive, plus the vertigo and then the pandemic prohibited me from usual tasks like grocery shopping. Now my husband, equipped with my detailed, list, also has had to shop. It took a while, but he finally knows the difference between zucchini and cucumbers.

There are times when it is difficult to rise from a chair. My husband helps get me balanced. When I’ve been stubborn and tried to get up on my own it has resulted in my landing on the floor. Ouch!

Our life is different now

We know now how very different life has become. There are cognitive changes that frustrate me. For example, in the first line of this essay, I wrote about the trip I took. It was only today when I realized I wrote: “Venus” instead of “Venice”. A Parkinson’s thing? It sounded right to me.

Having trouble remembering words. This is the most frustrating experience. But sometimes we just have to laugh as I resort to acting like I’m engaged in a game of charades.

Losing my independence has hurt the most. I am lucky to have someone to help, and I can continue to write, but there are still many days that I mourn the life that was.

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