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A love letter from Parkinson’s, to Vernon woman

Resident re-shares powerful message ahead of Superwalk Sept. 10

Eight years ago was the first subtle sign that Laura Wilson’s life was about to be forever changed.

The Vernon woman had her first sign of Parkinson’s disease.

Ahead of the Parkinson SuperWalk Saturday, Sept. 10, Wilson is sharing a powerful letter she wrote to herself in 2014, when she was first diagnosed.

“It was published 4 years ago to bring awareness to Parkinson’s and I had a lot of feed back on how touching and raw it was,” said Wilson.

The letter offers a glimpse into the struggle of living with the disease. Wilson hopes it will help others who are living with Parkinson, and also inspire them to come out the SuperWalk at Polson Park, at the oval track. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with the walk led by Pipe Major Don MacLeod at 10:30 a.m.

Dear Laura,

My name is Idiopathic Parkinson and its my time to thank you for your body that I now use as my vessel to progress and wreak havoc for all your years to come.

I’ve been watching you closely since I joined you, your family and friends in February 2014 and I want to tell you that “I love you.”

I reared my ugly head one hot, beautiful day in the Dominican Republic by making sure you or someone would notice I was forcing you to bend at the elbow on your right arm. Then, when no one noticed, quick enough for me, I made the arm stop swinging. Aha! Finally I was noticed, but you shrugged me off.

Well, you needed to know that I wasn’t going anywhere. I just hung around, waiting patiently until a stressful event came into your life, a common way for me to introduce myself stronger, and sure enough that event arrived.

I really felt bad about my timing. However, it was my time to get you to take me seriously, so I gave you a right hand tremor. Oh boy! How I enjoyed watching you spin; researching Google, trying to self-diagnose yourself for hours turning into days, but then, you all do.

That October you left to spend another hot winter in the Dominican Republic. I wasn’t letting up on the tremor, so you decided to find two top neurologists in Santo Domingo who could provide you with their opinions.

After many hours of research you found your neurologists, Dr. Santoni and Dr. Ruiz, who both trained in England. Both are top in their field. Both came to the same conclusion; Me! Parkinson’s! Dr. Santoni was the first to tell you I was living in you. It was a day I will never let you forget.

I held your hand while you fell down a rabbit hole and couldn’t claw yourself out. Day after day crying and asking “Why? Why me at the age of 55?” Depression and denial took over, while I decided to add rigidity in your right shoulder to accompany the tremor in your right arm. Perfect combination. No right arm swing, shoulder rigidity and tremor. Three of the cardinal signs that I have arrived.

You didn’t snap out of it for weeks. I was starting to think you were not going to allow me to progress. You were scaring me and I don’t scare easily.

You decided to start a list titled What I hate most about Parkinson’s.

• The unrelentless progression of symptoms. The thought that no matter what I do I will get worse with time because there’s no cure.

• Constantly hiding my tremor by wearing pockets to hide it in.

• My fear I won’t be able to take care of myself.

• My anger towards people who don’t care to understand the severity of Parkinson’s and its effect on our lives.

• Taking more meds than any human body can/should tolerate.

• Having to take meds for side effects caused by other meds and not by the disease itself.

• Being told we can live a normal life span but not realizing our years are filled with challenges and pain. Quantity is nothing without quality.

• The obligation to feel thankful for all the above because “I won’t die due to Parkinson’s, but my spirit may.”

So I pondered on all of the above and here’s why “I love you:”

• You finally stopped wallowing in self pity, stood up and decided to take me on.

• You’re proactive in slowing me down by searching out what works best to delay my progression. Exercise! Good, old fashioned exercise is the answer, and meds, as you need them.

So I’ll close my “love letter” to you by saying you are one tough competitor! You never let me down by allowing depression in or giving up on me. You have learned to accept me, and by doing so, you adapted to our new life together. I thank you.

Love Parkinson

READ MORE: Vernon woman living with Parkinson’s disease organizes SuperWalk

READ MORE: North Okanagan motorcyclists rev support in memory of Mallett


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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