It’s been awhile since I’ve written a Parky Interlude. That isn’t because Parkinson’s hasn’t been interrupting life. In fact, the opposite is true. But my most recent interruptions haven’t been Parkinson’s symptoms. They’ve been two other problems that are often associated with Parkinson’s: Mood and Anxiety Disorders.
I’m going to share three recent examples of the ancillary effects that Parkinson’s has on my life and that of my family. The first regards Anxiety, the second the side effects of medications, and the third Depression.
I’ll start by saying that I’ve went from driving rarely to not driving at all. This has become an issue of its own because we live in the county surrounding Evansville and not within walking distance of anything.
This is dirty laundry, folks, and it has nothing to do with board games. So if the smell bothers you come back another time.
My partner and I finished watching an episode of Orange is the New Black. It’s a show that everyone who watches Netflix has no doubt already watched or dismissed, but we’re really enjoying it. The commentary on the American penal system is just amazing and the characterization is better than anything on network television.
All of that to say, it was a very normal night with nothing out of place. We were getting ready for bed when I suddenly started having very dark, abstract thoughts. Then every time I closed my eyes I felt a sudden rush of some kind of terrible presence. Then, I started to panic.
People with an Anxiety Disorder will know how this works. You go from being a normal human being to feeling like a rat with it’s tail trapped by the sudden triggering of a spring, just waiting for something to devour you. Your fight or flight response is ratcheted up, and you have no recourse to either. You can do nothing but wait it out.
Last week, shortly after this episode, we went to see my neurologist and psychiatrist at Vanderbilt. It’s a 2 1/2 hour drive but the quality of care and access to specialists in movement disorders and Parkinson’s treatment is worth the drive. I was given a prescription for a new pill. Just what I needed.
After taking this pill for less than a week I had an episode where I: drove around at high speed through various parts of the city, nearly hit a deer, went home, punted a trash can full of buffalo chicken bones across the kitchen, convinced myself that someone had stolen my car keys, found the car keys, drove to work, sat in the parking lot, and finally found my way back to my family who were at an Extra Life event.
Now, driving to work might not seem all that weird in the scheme of things, but having been out of work for just over 3 months now it begins to smell a little fishy. I was convinced that I had to do payroll. When I got to the church where the Extra Life event was being hosted I sat in the car listening to music staring out into space. My partner came out and I screamed in fright when she opened the car door. I sobbed when I told her I had to go back to work to do payroll or I’d lose my job.
So, a couple days ago the braintrust at Vanderbilt said to stop taking this new medication. Last night I was so depressed I locked myself in a room in the basement for the better part of the day. I didn’t want to do anything or see anybody. I haven’t felt so low in a long time.
Distraction is my main coping mechanism. But sometimes it’s hard to think about coping with these things at all. Sometimes things fall apart and the center will not hold. Sometimes Yeats is appropriate. Sometimes Achebe more so.
So, here’s to a better tomorrow when today has fallen apart.