This is not a sentence that I had contemplated, planned, entertained etc. It’s not a condition that I thought I would be explaining to people or announcing en masse. But there it is. If you had asked me 20 years ago I might have joked that I thought PD was a condition whereby you were accosted and interviewed by some random Yorkshire lad. (Ring me when you get that joke) Now of course I can boast that I have something common with a Michael J Fox, Billy Connolly and Clive White.
The visit to the neurologist was in my mind, a formality to rule out PD. 40 minutes and nearly $400 later, he gave me the diagnosis that I really wasn’t expecting. I’ve never had this kind of news before. I’m not sure what the proper response should be. Silent questions ran through my head like express trains at peak hour. In between all of my questions the neurologist punctuated the silence with variations on the “you’re going to be all right” mantra.
Is it life threatening? You’re going to be all right.
Is there a cure? You’re going to be all right.
Should my children be worried? You’re going to be all right.
Who should I tell? You’re going to be all right.
Then you shift into wondering how is the disease going to manifest. Will I still be able to play guitar? Will I be shuffling through the public eye like some shaking drooling shell of a person? How do I work and pay the mortgage?
In a fit of feeling sorry for myself, after I phoned my wife to tell her, I drove to a place that sells decadent cakes and ordered a strong coffee and a disgustingly rich cake, and scoffed them down while I pondered what happens next.
What happened next was the real humbling kicker. You see, you have to tell people. People could see my arm shaking. I had already had a regular stream of friends approach me, concerned about what they saw happening to my body. Bernadette, my wife, was still reeling from the news by the time I got home. My brothers and sisters all had sage words of support and comfort. Friends started messaging me, affirming their friendship and support, offering prayers and any other comfort that was within their scope to offer. When explaining it to one of my sons, I had my own epiphany when I said to him that I am still the same person I was yesterday; I just happen to have a name for what was wrong with me.
It’s humbling to be told that there is something wrong with you. What’s even more humbling is to witness first hand how much people care for you. In the middle of all of this, I still have a strong faith in a God who loves us, and yes, a God who can heal us. Whether this disease is miraculously healed or not, nothing or no-one will alter my view on this.
And of course, many/most people ask if my guitar playing is affected by this? Short answer is yes and no. Every now and then I can feel some of the dexterity diminishing in my left hand. If you’re not a guitarist you probably wouldn’t notice, but I can tell. I’ve thought about this a lot. My honest answer if that is all of a sudden I couldn’t use my left hand at all then I would simply be grateful for all of the music that has been mine to make. But we’re not there yet.
So it’s onward and upward. Medication, lots of exercise, no excuses.
As my friend Andy Dufresne once said “get busy living, or get busy dying”
That’s the God honest truth..