People’s reactions when I say “I have Parkinson’s Disease!” | PD Blog

“Merry Christmas; and I almost forgot to mention I’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, an incurable idiopathic affliction.”

No, that does not have the tone the season calls for.

Especially the term “idiopathic,” which only means that medical science does not know what causes it.

My friends’ reactions to my Parkinson’s diagnosis

What do people say when you disclose your PD diagnosis – we are talking average acquaintances here – rather than friends with some medical background.

    Indeed most of my friends have heard the term but admittedly don’t know much about the symptoms, progression and changes that take place in the body.

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    They, as a rule don’t realize it is terminal, unless some other disease claims the patient first, a common conclusion because PD is characterized as a sickness of the elderly.

    Since it’s only about three months since I was diagnosed at the Long Beach VA Medical Center not all of my acquaintances have heard the news yet. I am not embarrassed as I might be by a different diagnosis, but it’s a darn bother explaining PD in a Christmas card written in long hand.

    I should have a rubber stamp made.

    The details are interesting whether verbal or written but since most of us use computers a few people will make do with a sentence or two.

    Some were shocked, a few having wondered some years ago if strong drink would carry me off but others had no idea what PD entails.

    Some people were dismayed.

    “Oh no, this is terrible news!” Said Jan Worth-Nelson a former newspaper colleague, novelist, college professor and poet who asked what effect the trembling hands may have on my artwork (tremulousness is usually when hands are at rest and may not affect handiwork).

    A friend of mine took the Lords name in vain sympathetically. Are you going to be all right?

   He is also an artist and a cartoonist and raised the question of my diseases effect on my art work.

    A listing of prominent Americans who have died of PD over the past Century included a number of artists.

    Another old friend from the journalism field whose family has had health problems was forthright “How long do you have?” I explained with PD, it is often hard to predict, but it is usually a matter of years.

    They may have increasing difficulties but most will be better than the alternative.

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