Sometimes, you know, it is really a challenge to be thankful! Some of us, myself included, feel like , "What have I got to be thankful for?" This is especially true with those of us who are fighting the effects of a disease like Parkinson's. "Yeah, Tom.... trying to face each day fighting this Parkinson's monster... I have very little to be thankful for!!"
Ever felt like that? I have to admit, occasionally I feel that way. Especially in the evening, after a long day battling old man PD - that thought might just enter my mind. But when I get that way, I begin to think about ALL the things I DO have that I am thankful for. And I realize then and there that being thankful is not something you do only when you feel like it, or only when things are going good, but rather it should be a way of life.
In this season of giving thanks, I thought I would touch upon some of the things we Parkies have to be thankful for - at least in my case. Let's see if they ring true for you too!
Those Wonderful yellow pills! (i.e. I'm thankful I'm living now instead of pre-1960's!) We Parkies love our Sinemet! It restores (at least for awhile) our normal motor functions. But did you know that Levodopa was only discovered in the 1960's? I've heard that the discovery of Levodopa literally took people out of nursing homes overnight! So I am so thankful to be living now instead of back then. We have meds that can temporarily resolve our symptoms and at least let us live a better life. I can only imagine what it was like back then - a lot of us would be in a much worse place!!
Decent doctors and medical technologies
At the same time I am glad that we have all the doctors, neurologists, and medical technologies available today to help us live with this disease. Take DBS for instance... 30 years ago it would have seemed ridiculous to even think we could help with Parkinson symptoms by putting two wires with electrodes deep into someone's brain and then putting current through the wires! Yet today, it's -almost- a common surgery.... Or take the DATscan - now we can get a more confident diagnosis using this newer imaging technique. Not only that, we're in the age where medical breakthroughs are happening all the time, and more money than ever is being spent on Parkinson's research - which makes me hopeful that the cure for PD may just be around the corner. Finally, it's a tremendous advantage to have doctors trained in dealing with Parkinson's - I am guessing a few decades ago there were little to no Motion Disorder Specialists; now we have access to these folks who know this disease inside and out! So let's all be thankful for having doctors and technologies that help keep us going.
Family and friends
Did you ever think what life would be like, having PD, and not having family or friends? All of us - especially PD patients - need a social outlet; be it visits with family, a dinner date with friends, game night, or whatever. The point is we NEED interaction with other people - that is a basic human need. But for us with PD, it's an even bigger thing, because keeping active socially can help keep our spirits up, get us moving, and make us use our brains! That, folks, may just keep things like cognitive decline and apathy in check. So I am thankful for my family, friends, and others who I spend time with and give me encouragement during this journey!
That I have a caregiver/partner in this disease
I am always thankful that I have a wonderful wife - and care partner, as she likes to be called - to help me during this journey. She not only helps me physically, but also encourages me when I am not feeling very optimistic. Let's face it, folks, without our caregivers we'd be... well, as they say, "Up a creek without a paddle!" I can only imagine what kind of shape I'd be in now if it were not for my wife! Therefore, since this is National Family Caregivers Month let's give all our spouses and care partners a big hug and an even bigger THANK YOU for just being there with us!
The 'Common' stuff: A roof over my head, food in my belly, and living in a free country!
What more can I say? We should all be thankful for these things, because there are folks out there who don't have the basics of life. There are millions in the world - and even here in the US - that don't have enough food to eat or a roof over their head. And I know there are millions out in the world who don't have any freedom of any kind in their country! We may have a insidious disease that gets us down at times, but we should always be thankful for having a home, food, and the freedom to live as we want!
That I'm not worse off than I am
This at first seems somewhat rude for me to say, since I know there are others out there - maybe even reading this blog - that are in worse shape than myself. But I think that all of us with Parkinson's should be thankful because it could always be worse - Alzheimer's comes to mind immediately. And even when I do get to the point where the disease really starts to take me down, I'm sure there will be others who are worse off than I will be. So even though I realize this is a chronic disease, and that it will get worse in the future, I am thankful that - for now - it is not as bad as it could be!
That I have the opportunity to write about these things and hopefully help others
That was my whole purpose behind this blog - to get out there, write about things I know and experienced, and possibly help others along the path. To me, that is a gift, and I am thankful for it. And I am thankful for you, my readers, who follow my blog - I hope that I have given someone some advice, resources, courage, and maybe even a little laughter during this time!
That I'm... well, just me!
Some folks are just not happy with themselves - either their looks, circumstances, job, etc. But I've gotten to the point where I am happy just being me! So I am thankful that I am who I am, and that my parents instilled in me the things that I now find I need during this time in my life. And, I am thankful for my faith, in knowing that God is watching over me and that I am never alone, no matter what dire circumstances I may be in. So I hope you too are thankful for these things also - and remember to be thankful that you're YOU, because there is NO ONE else in the world like you!!
Well, I hope I've inspired you to think about things you are thankful for, and to remember those who have and are helping you along life's journey. So in this season of Thanksgiving, remember to be thankful - and enjoy each day as best as you can!
To all my readers: Have a blessed Thanksgiving! And don't eat too much turkey!!