Tuesday, October 31, 2006

PD and me

Imagine you’re cold. Your body is trembling from the cold, shivers making you shake to find the warmth. But you are not cold. You are just shaking. Then your jaw starts to move back and forth as though there is something caught between your lower lip and your teeth. But there is nothing there. Imagine the stiffness you get when you have worked too hard at an unusual activity and your shoulders and neck are tight and it is bothersome to move. Now feel like you want to move quickly because you’re in a hurry, but your legs just won’t get going, so you shuffle along as best you can, hoping that no one is staring at your clumsiness. Instead of running up the stairs to get something you forgot, imagine that you can’t get your foot to rise to the first step without a second or two of hesitation. Think about the last conversation you had with friends and how the words just tumbled forth keeping up with your thoughts. Now imagine what it would be like not to be able to get those words out, to finish a sentence, to remember the word you need. Remember the time you were restless and couldn’t get comfortable no matter what you did. Now imagine feeling that way all the time, your legs jumpy and your arms unable to relax. And then, after sitting too long, you get up and your leg shakes and trembles until your brain fiinally tells it to stop. Think about how much you enjoyed that bowl of soup at lunch. Now imagine avoiding soup because your hand trembles too much to get the spoon to your mouth without spilling it on the table and down your chin. Think about how easy it is to type a message on your blog, your fingers dancing effortlessly across the keyboard. Now imagine going back over that last sentence and correcting every other word because your fingers just won’t hit the key you want once, but hits each key two or three times. When was the last time you thought about signing your name to that check you wrote? Now imagine not being able to sign your name becasuse you can't grip the pen enough to control its movement while your hand shakes. Remember last night when you hit the pillow and fell right to sleep and slept soundly and woke refreshed and ready to start the day. Now imagine falling into bed after taking a sedative to help you relax, knowing that you won’t sleep more than an hour at a time, and that rolling over from one side to the other will require a huge effort to get your body to move. Now imagine spending hundreds of dollars a month on medication to help you cope with all that, knowing that this is just the beginning and that it will only get worse. And worst of all, imagine how hurt and upset your wife is seeing you like this and knowing that all those wonderful plans you made together for your retirement might not happen. That’s the Parkinsons Disease I face each day.

Support stem cell research in all its forms. That is the hope I, and others like me, have for the future. Imagine how normal your life is and then remember how mine is. Stem cell research shows real promise if we will let it continue and reach its potential good.

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