Those who know me reasonably well know that for the past ten months or so, I’ve been pretty much incapable of coherent speech. (Those who know me even better are saying, “Only ten months? Nyuk nyuk nyuk!” Well, not really. I added the Stooge sounds.) Due to the Parkinson’s, which pretty much destroyed my speech center, I can barely make sounds above a whisper, and on those rare occasions when I can whip up enough breath support to make a noise louder than a mouse fart in a hurricane, I sound like a Neanderthal on ‘ludes. (As if that weren’t bad enough, the real twist of the knife comes when I have a cold. Because then, instead of sounding even worse, I sound terrific. Due to laryngeal edema, I get to talk better than ever -- as long as my sinuses are stuffed like a turducken in a tutu and I feel like hammered crap. Ah, the irony ...)
There really isn’t a whole lot of positive spin can be put on having this disease. (Technically it isn’t really a disease, if we’re using the term to mean some sort of clinically-evident pathogenic process. It’s more of a syndrome.) But if one has to say something positive about it (and I’m not saying for a nanosecond that one does), I suppose it would be this:
It forces you to live in the moment.
When your brain barricades itself in the control room and starts smashing the VU meters, throwing knife switches and levers at random and in general carrying on real cranky -- well, then things tend to get real clear and immediate, and when decisions have to be made, they generally have to be made quickly -- such as picking which way to fall so as to do yourself the least damage in the split-second between the time your muscles freeze and you start to topple.
Or take chewing. A fairly mindless exercise -- how many of you are really aware of how your tongue moves your food around as your jaws masticate? Try biting said tongue nine or ten times during the course of a meal. You’ll get real aware of it real fast.
‘When you mention Parkinson’s, everyone immediately thinks of the shakes. Believe me, tremoring is the least of it, in many cases. Far worse is the freezing, the loss of balance, the ss-lll-oo-www-ing down of everything. And far worse than any physical problem is the uncomfortable looks people give you before quickly glancing away.
It doesn’t make the moment a very pleasant place to be, most of the time. Not that I have a lot of choice in the matter.