Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in July 2009. Six years ago that seems like six weeks.
Bill had about a one-and-a-half minute pity party, and then continued on with his life as usual. Well, not quite as usual. PD can display itself in a variety of ways; for the most part, Bill’s primary symptom was slowness of movement – called bradykinesia. The odd thing about PD is that from Bill’s perspective, he was moving normally, though he understood that he wasn’t from the perspective of others. It’s a weird disease.
Anyway, the symptom he had that probably bothered him most was not the bradykinesia (since I looked up that word, I’m going to use it as often as possible to show you how smart I am because it’s not really something you use much in general conversation). What impacted his life most was that he lost a lot of small muscle dexterity. And when you like to build and repair and put together things as much as he, it sucks to not be able to handle teeny things like screws.
One time he was putting together something or other, and he had then-3-or-4-year-old Kaiya helping him by handing him screws because it was hard for him to pick them up. It was the sweetest, most poignant thing you can imagine. And unbeknownst to him (at least until he reads it in this blog post), I went into the other room and cried. Not because I was sad that he needed help (though admittedly that entered into it), but because he had Kaiya’s help. He always figures out how to do what he needs to do, even if it’s asking for his granddaughter’s help.
Bill has accepted his condition, calling it a mere “inconvenience.” I, on the other hand, am scared ALL THE TIME. If the poor man drops a pencil, I am certain it’s the symptoms returning or getting worse. Most of the time it’s just that he dropped a pencil.
When he was first diagnosed, part of my freaking out was my fear that I wouldn’t be mentally and emotionally strong enough to care for him if that’s what it came to. Jen talked me off the ledge by assuring me that Bill and I would never be alone. That’s what grandchildren are for, Jen said with certainty. Addie will help you, she said.
I believe her, and it wouldn’t just be Addie but all of the grands who love Papa so much.
But anyway, I’m turning this post into something maudlin, which isn’t my intention. In fact, what I want to say is that we went to Bill’s doctor who specializes in movement disorders for his semiannual checkup, and he got big fat zeros. AND THAT’S A GOOD THING! Symptoms are measured on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 being the worse. Did I mention he got all zeros?
As always, he appeared to take it all in stride (though after 23 years of marriage, I can tell he was very happy). For my part, I started to cry. What else is new?
Here’s something funny. One of the tests the nurse practitioner that he sees does is have him close his eyes and put out his hands and then asks him to do a difficult task such as count from 100 backwards by sevens, or something similar. This time she asked him to name the presidents backwards. I, of course, started trying to do it and failed miserably. I got to George W. Bush. He did better. She always assures us that she isn’t testing his memory, but wants him distracted so that she can see if he has a tremor. He didn’t.
And when we returned home, he returned to his project of taking out our dishwasher so that he can install the new one.
The man doesn’t quit.