Parkinson’s disease is classified as a movement disorder. The human body needs a chemical that certain cells in the brain were designed to produce. That chemical enables the body to move correctly. For some reason, as many as 20 years ago, those cells in my brain started to die. After about 80 percent of them were dead, my body started acting peculiar. It began to ignore what my brain was telling it to do. My body also began doing things my brain was not directing it to do. My body began to rebel. With the demise of those certain brain cells, the authority my brain had over the actions of my body began to break down, but not completely. My brain is still in control for the most part. But slowly, different systems of my body are acting on their own. This is happening with both types of movement, voluntary movement and involuntary movement. With voluntary movement, like walking, my brain tells my legs to move a certain way to achieve a normal walking stride. My legs refuse and start a kind of shuffling movement. Without that chemical those brain cells previously produced, my legs ignore my brain’s instructions. They move the way they want too.
Then there’s involuntary movement, like digestion. When I eat, my brain tells my digestive tract to move the food through my body at a certain rate so the good parts of the food can be used where my body needs it and any waste can be disposed of all in a timely fashion. But again, without that chemical, everything slows down. My brain tells my digestive system to move things along at the normal rate. Instead, the system slows and backs up.
As time goes by, my body’s rebellion is intensifying. More systems are affected. My brain’s ability to maintain control is being compromised. With others that have this condition, movement has been known to stop. They refer to it as “freezing”. A person will be shuffling along and all of a sudden, their legs will just stop. They can’t move. When this happens, the persons brain needs a reboot. Many times, this can be accomplished by placing a small obstacle on the floor in front of the frozen person. The presence of this obstacle does something in the person’s brain that allows it to direct the legs to move again. Some people with this challenge use a walking cane that will shine a laser beam across their path that appears as an obstacle to the brain and they can move again.
I have heard people say that when an ability is lost, like sight or hearing, the person will dream and in the dreams what they lost is regained. They say the same regarding people that lose a limb. In their dreams, they are whole and can run and throw a ball. When I dream, I dream of movement. My body does what my brain tells it to do when and how my brain tells it to.
To get good at any physical activity requires what is called muscle memory. Repeating a certain movement until the body moves that way without even thinking about it. It’s necessary to do this if you’re learning to shoot a gun well or throw a football. My body has lost its memory. When I dream of movement, I wake and I remember the feeling of the movement in the dream. Then with the first movement of the day, the truth that my body muscles have lost their memory becomes instantly clear.
They say Parkinson’s is not fatal. That’s good. I haven’t heard of anyone’s heart or lungs that have stopped because of the lack of dopamine.” That’s the name of the chemical that the dead cells produced. So, things could be much worse.
I just have to deal with my dreams keeping the memories of movement alive.