If you are new to my blog or haven’t spent much time here, you might not realize that in 2018 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. I generally don’t write about it because, thankfully, it hasn’t had to, nor do I allow it to, take center stage in my life. Today I have decided to write about it because April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
I’m going to start by sharing a link to the Parkinson’s Foundation website where you can learn a lot about the disease.
Since I do not use social media, other than my blog, and I don’t watch much news I’m not really certain how much awareness is being spread. Today I’m going to share a brief story as an example of how more awareness may benefit me and perhaps others with PD. Since every person with Parkinson’s experiences it differently I will do a future post to tell you more about my PD story.
Please Don’t Misunderstand Me
I need to preface this story by explaining that at this point my main Parkinson’s symptom and the only visible one is tremors. I am blessed that my tremors do not affect my limbs but are only present in my head and very, very slightly in my hands. Unfortunately, these completely involuntary head tremors, that at times I am not even aware are occurring, are often mistaken for a form of communication. They have in the past been interpreted as; shaking my head “No”, shaking my head in disgust, frustration, or anger, and one time I was asked if I was cold because the person thought I was shivering.
Most recently, I was shopping at our local dollar store. The store was not busy and there was only one person in front of me in line and no one behind me. The person in front of me finished paying and walked toward the exit, and the cashier began ringing up my items. As the person who had been in front of me in line was walking out, he stopped and asked the cashier if the carried powdered sugar. The cashier said “sometimes we do but I’m not sure if we have any. Let me check.” As she quickly left the register, the person said, “no, don’t bother. She’s shaking her head.” I’m not sure whether he thought I was indicating that they didn’t have the item, or that I was upset because the cashier had paused her service to me in order to attend to him. I attempted to explain to him that the tremors were involuntary and had nothing to do with his interaction with the cashier, but he didn’t seem to acknowledge me.
The cashier was back in a matter of seconds telling him they did not have what he was looking for. After he left, I told the cashier that it is frustrating when people assume that my tremors are something that they are not. I explained that the tremors are caused by Parkinson’s, and she understood, telling me that she thought that someone she knew was in the early stages of this disease.
In a day and age where people are highly sensitive and quick to react to a perceived offense, I often fear that someone, not understanding my condition, may take offence. I am sharing this story with you today because promoting awareness of Parkinson’s and perhaps wearing a button or clothing with the below emblem on it are the only things I can think of to help prevent these kinds of misunderstandings.
Please feel free to share this post and help promote Parkinson’s awareness.
Thanks for reading.