I have always known that this body and this mind were fragile. As with most people, my body gets sick. Some microscopic result of the fall of man invades my system from time to time and I get sick. Thankfully, God provided an additional provision for this. I guess I would call it an after the fall gift. Before the fall, Adam and Eve did not have an immune system. They didn’t need one. They were perfect and there were no germs. After the fall, their bodies needed something to fight off these invaders of the fall, so they were provided with body defenses to battle these new enemies. It’s been war ever since. These germs and bacteria attacking and adapting. Our defenses fighting back and adapting. Throughout history, our microscopic foes have tried many times to wipe us out. So far, our immune systems and the intelligence God has given to man to invent defenses have kept us from obliteration. I’m frankly surprised we are still here. If Satan had his way, we wouldn’t be.
When I was younger, despite getting sick, I did have a feeling of invincibility. That ended for me at the age of 50. That’s the year I believe I started to feel the presence of Parkinson’s disease. Any feeling of invincibility ended. My body and my mind were telling me something was wrong. More wrong than anything I had previously felt. Not knowing what was wrong was the worst part. It played havoc with my brain, body and my mind. I not only suffered from the onslaught of my physical body and brain being attacked by this unknown assailant, but my mind was fighting depression. Only after the adversary had been identified did a strange peace and resolve descend upon me. I was not imagining the things that were happening to me and the depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s.
So, roughly fifteen years ago, for some reason unknown to me, my brain started to cut back its production of dopamine. That’s the chemical the brain produces to aid and regulate movement. As the production decreases, my body moves slower. And not only my body and muscles, but some of my internal systems also. Digestion is one example. The little flap that insures what’s supposed to go to the stomach goes to the stomach, and what’s supposed to go to the lungs goes to the lungs, is another. It gets slow and I tend to choke.
They say that by the time a person starts to notice any Parkinson’s symptoms, about 80% of their dopamine producing brain cells are dead.
My journey with Parkinson’s disease started with symptoms from an unknown cause when I was 50, diagnosed when I was 54. But the journey hasn’t been too bad so far. Yes, I have had to stop working, I now drive very rarely. I’m slow, I’m tired all the time and get exhausted easily. Each day I become less dependent on what I have always been able to do and more dependent on my wife Marcia to stand in for me in life. But that’s ok. I could spend my time mourning the loss of me and feeling guilty for having to add all these things to Marcia’s plate. The bottom line though is that I didn’t ask for this. It just turned out to be my journey. And my sweet wife is just that, my sweet wife. She chose to walk this life with me. I would do the same for her.
My immune system can’t fight this. There are a lot of smart people working on a cure for Parkinson’s. If that proves to be too elusive, they are also working on finding a way to prevent it and tools to help people like me live our lives to the fullest.
As I continue to travel down this road that God did not want me to travel down, but was created by rebellion against God, I can see the white shores of my destination. It is more beautiful than words can describe. If I look real hard, I think I can see a crowd standing on the shore, waving me on.
And I do know that as my feet touch that sand and I go to greet all those I love, I will be running!