Thursday, April 4, 2013



NOTE: April is a busy month for lots of folks. It starts off well, with April Fool's Day, which I personally celebrate every day; sometimes several times a day, or an hour, if I'm having a good run. As well as this fine Challenge, Blogging from A to Z for April of 2013, April is also Parkinson's Disease Awareness month. I have Parkinson's Disease. Or not. That is the question. Stick around long enough and you will all find out the answer to the worst-kept secret since the H-Bomb recipe was sold to the USSR, back in the 50s and since this is my blog on Thursdays, I will be posting my posts here and at P.A.N.D.A. Even if you don't know anyone with Parkinson's Disease or any type of movement disorder, or you are not a caregiver for anyone, or are dealing with any type of chronic illness, you might want to browse this site. The men and women and this community are brave and wonderful, hopeful and funny people. They are my battery mates. Now, back to our Challenge here at A-to-Z!

I could be coy and state that here we have a multitude of “D” words, but today is Thursday, day 4 of the A-to-Z April Challenge and it is also Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month. I blog on most Thursdays for the P.A.N.D.A. Organization, which is a wonderful group that provides support to folks with Parkinson's, or PD, or their caregivers. Most people associate this movement disorder with Michael J. Fox, who has young onset PD, or Muhammad Ali, who may or may not have acquired PD or Parkinsonism during is delayed career after his boxing license was re-instated. Like so many neuro-muscular with all of the inherent symptomology and untangling of the physical and mental aspects, it is hard to pinpoint any one specific cause for these conditions. My PD or not-PD is not yours and vice versa. It's hard to quantify and eludes labeling.

My friend, YumaBev (Twitter @YumaBev and Parkinson's Humor) is a HUGE advocate for PD. She sings "I don't need no rockin' chair, 'cause I'm rockin' on my own!"

I am currently among the undiagnosed and non-medicated for that,  and my story is not unique, although my manifestations of the disease or condition or visitation, for the more celestially and whimsically inclined are unique to me, as are my outlooks and reactions to the whole shebang. I have had a whale of a journey to get here, just right here, right now, typing this to you A-to-Z-ers and P.A.N.D.A. Folks. I guess we all have these sorts of stories where we come in after the intermission and are trying to get caught up.

You haven't missed all that much. Just know that people with neuro-muscular disorders of any stripe, I find, tend to suffer from depression and black it is when it hits. There is of course, the usual raging debate, about whether or not this really exists. It does and it is ferocious in its callous disregard for a person's progress. Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps is not an answer. More often than not, the etiology is biochemical, as I found when I had a psychotic break after not sleeping for a month and woke up a month later in a mental ward with tremors and a patchy short-term memory. The fun was only beginning.

Testing for PD doesn't exist and I, in the course of the past year, with careful observation of myself, reading, conversation with other Parkinson's Disease patients, memories of my life and my family life (I am an only child, no offspring and both parents deceased) can conclude that my mother suffered from PD or PD-like symptoms as well, though she was never diagnosed to my knowledge. After the committal to the mental ward, the psychiatrist, who concluded that I was absolutely no harm to anyone or myself, but was bipolar and prescribed accordingly and sent me on my way, also noted, that this was the least troublesome committal he'd ever dealt with; bipolarity is part of the Parkinson's. I think one of the reasons for that is I am in my late 50s, although I had exhibited symptoms for years.

I probably have more of the mental issues than physical; I do have tremors and they have really been troublesome of late. I can't play my viola without it sounding like a machine gun. ViolaFury is definitely not pleased. This brings out the not really happy part of me. This is not good. I will have to think nice thoughts or take a time out... from humanity. Just kidding. But, it really points to something that I mentioned briefly in my Beethoven post. Pissed much?

I don't do this well; by the time we're here, hostages have been taken and Haz-Mat is on the scene... Just kidding.

Mad? ViolaFury is my nom de guerre for a reason. She puts on her boxing gloves when she needs them. She may need them. I believe I mentioned the Roman empire and Emperors during their Triumphs in Ancient Rome; in a not very well-written way, I was trying to allude to their mortality and how they were reminded of it by slaves during the triumphs. Beethoven, in his way, did that to Bonaparte in his 3rd symphony. We all do that, while perversely "facing the tiger." I can put up with the spastic typing and not being able to comb my hair or wear make up. That's minor stuff.

But if I can't play Wolf? I can't play my gorgeous Guidantus viola, built in 1837, only 10 years after Beethoven died, to his (the viola's) full potential and play as I am able to play? I put on my Roman boxing gloves. They used to be made out of leather, with metal studs added and were called cestus, to inflict greater damage. I am a boxing fan; a HUGE boxing fan. I may have to dig those bad boys out of storage, and strap 'em on, to take on PD or non-PD, that is the question, because "nobody puts Wolf in the corner." Metaphorically, of course, but for real? I wish, in my little brawler heart.

Wolf and I, playing William Walton's Viola Concerto in a windstorm. The rainstorm pictures didn't work so well. Wolf doesn't like water.

In all seriousness, this is fine. I'd much rather have this facing me than the horrible black sorrow of depression, the fear that all of life is ending and the mourning over the horrific cruelties we inflict on one another with so little thought, or worse, with so much planning and intention to do the greatest harm and evil possible. If life is to have any meaning it needs to be fought for and won hard. Every single day is a celebration, an ode to happiness, joy, a will to express ourselves the best that we are able to and to love one another freely and without reservation.

If I didn't have the challenges I have had previous to this moment, I would have nothing to say or express, nothing to sing or play or write about. This is my song and this is also what my Parkinson's Awareness has given me.

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