On the heels of cancer and chemotherapy, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease three years ago. I suspect the cancer/chemo was a cause, but I don’t know. But this disease remains more a shadow on my future than an interference with my life today, except for a mild tremor and a muddling of my mental machinations. I enrolled in an exercise class for Parkinson’s patients and discovered what my future held in store for me: brave people who struggled to speak, who struggled to walk, one who fell and broke her leg, another who fell down a flight of stairs, one who took a trip and returned not the same person, as if the trip had taken all his remaining energy and life force. All of them struggling to put one foot in front of the other, keep their posture straight, their head and shoulders back, a constant forced cheerfulness in their faces as they cheered each other on. After a few months of working with them, I realized my Parkinson’s was not advanced very far compared to theirs and I did not need this exercise class yet. My Parkinson’s had not progressed far enough to make it helpful. Instead, I go to the gym three to four days with Gail. I am immensely grateful for this current span of living in which the disease leaves me alone and remains like a shark circling in the distance.
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