If you haven’t already seen it, I really encourage you to watch the Frontline special called “My father, My brother and me.” (You can watch the whole thing at that link.)
It’s by journalist Dave Iverson who found out in 2004 he had Parkinson’s disease — the same disease he watched his father struggle with.
There were a handful of things in it that I never knew about, and because it was made in 2009, it was interesting to see what changes and advancements have been made in just a few short years.
DAVE IVERSON: Watching Tom and Madeleine Shearer, I think back to my parents, the adjustments they made, little things, like the difference a shoehorn can make, and that even as speech becomes more difficult, it still only takes a few words to sum up how best to face the future.
TOM SHEARER: Shoes on again.
DAVE IVERSON: Shoes on again. The day after I got my diagnosis, I began an exercise regimen, mostly just because I wanted to feel like I was still in charge of my own body. And the more I learned about exercise, the more hopeful I became. Research at one location was particularly intriguing, the University of Pittsburgh and the lab of Dr. Michael Zigmond.
My favorite quote from it was:
“Parkinson’s requires, of all things, a kind of gracefulness. An ability to shift and adapt. To change medication for what feels like the millionth time and still smile.”
What really struck me about this was just how true it was. The people I know with Parkinson’s take a handful of medications at different times of the day. They change medications. They deal with what Dad calls the “Harmon two-step” — when they start to move but it takes the body a little bit to catch up.
But throughout their struggles, I see great senses of humor and outlooks on life in most of the Parkinson’s patients I know. I see that gracefulness. To just smile despite all the things that they have to go through just to do something as simple as get a glass of water.