“I have no choice about whether or not I have Parkinson’s. I have nothing but choices about how I react to it. In those choices, there’s freedom to do a lot of things in areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise found myself in.” — Michael J Fox
Today is April 11. It means very little to a lot of people, unless it happens to be their birthday, or perhaps a wedding anniversary. To me, and to a surprising number of people under the age of - well, let's just say not so old, it means a hell of a lot.
Today is World Parkinson's Day. And I, like 10% of all people in Australia with this condition - I actually refuse to call it a disease - was well and truly diagnosed under the age of 50. It is not reserved for the elderly; it is not something that should not be discussed.
The fact is that six million people worldwide have Parky and it isn't going away anytime soon - not unless we talk about it, and raise awareness - and most of all raise bucketloads of money to find out what on earth causes it.
I seriously believe that if it wasn't for Mike Fox coming out of the Parky closet there would still be a misconception of this bugger of a thing still being seen as something that only happens to little old men shuffling around in their jammies, forgetting where they are and shaking uncontrollably. And sadly, that is something that is the fate of many with Parkinson's - but then again, it's pretty much the fate of everyone once they reach a certain age.
But I am not old. I am not shuffling around, bent over. I do not sit around in my jammies - well, not unless I feel like it. And unless I forget to take my meds, or I am very very tired, you would be hard pressed to see my tremor. I do sometimes lose my balance and my handwriting is appalling, and sometimes I get what I call 'the stares' but so what? I am not sure that qualifies me as an invalid. I make fun of myself before anyone else can (usually the Dread P - he has a very strange interpretation of the word 'special') because my goodness, it would be very dull indeed to take this thing seriously.
There is a reason why I have posted a photo of myself wearing - well, wearing myself.
Because this is what someone with Parkinson's looks like.
Someone who takes care of themselves. Who is fit. And active. And healthy(ish).
And I am damned if Parkinson's is going to beat me down.
I have had it for 11 years. I am so very lucky to be in a good place, after some dark times. I know the horror moments of what E Onset Parky can bring. I have had my share of nights spent with my muscles locked in total rigidity - including my jaw, which no doubt gave some people the benefit of my not speaking - and I have cried many tears of pain and frustration and anger.
And the trouble is I never know when those days may come back. Just like Mike Fox, just like the amazing Clyde Campbell, founder of Shake It Up here in Australia, just like my beautiful friends Sacha and Suey. We never know.
So today - give some cash. Just a little. Think about really cool people like Marty McFly himself. He and I can't go Back To The Future just yet - but we can do everything possible to raise awareness and funds.
Is it wrong to say I would quite like a de Lorean if someone wants to give me one?
Yes. Yes it is.
I blame Parkinson's for the impure thought.