Voices from Parkinson's community
Ginny Fraser's Three Steps to Living Happily with PD
This posting is a snippet of the Recently Diagnosed with PD blog, written by Betsy Vierck.
Almost three years ago I was also diagnosed with Parkinson's. Ginny and I became refuges for each other. We have been extremely tight, speaking in a language that non-PDers can never understand.
I learned so much from my friend. I did not realize it at the time that I was acquiring the knowledge. Her influence on me was subtle, which was her way. I have dubbed three of Ginny's lessons Ginny Fraser's Three Steps to Living Happily with PD. They exemplify her grace in adapting to her physical changes.
- Don’t make PD your life or identity.
Parkinson's is only one of many of life's challenges. Focus where you must to be as healthy and forthcoming as possible. Then move on to another topic or activity. For God’s sake, keep the whining to only-when-necessary.
- Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Be grateful for what you have left, don't focus on what you’ve lost. Put this philosophy into action.
When Ginny couldn’t cook any more she didn’t stop entertaining. Chuck picked up cake and ice cream at the grocery store and she had people over for dessert. Soon her group of friends and neighbors were doing the same thing!
The week before she died, Ginny learned how to use voice recognition software so she could continue to email her family and friends. She was starting a support group for PWP living in the assisted living facility she and Chuck moved to, and, always the innovator, she was organizing a lecture series in which the residents would talk about their life experiences.
- Don’t be embarrassed by your PD.
Self-consciousness holds you back! Ginny didn’t apologize for her slowness; she apologized for any inconvenience it might cause. And it never grounded her.
Ginny also never over-accommodated for her PD out of embarrassment. In restaurants, rather than order something easy to eat such as scrambled eggs, which she really didn’t want, she ordered the steak, which she did want, but could no longer slice. Then she would ask the wait staff to cut her meat before serving it, even resorting to, “I have Parkinson’s disease, and I can’t eat this steak unless you give it to me in bite size pieces,” when one waitress brought her a whole slab of beef and then ignored her request to take it back to the kitchen and slice it for her. Characteristically, she greeted the waitress with a big, grateful smile when she returned from the kitchen with the meat arranged on her plate in neat little chunks.
It's a bit goofy, but I have to say it: Ginny had PD. She also had her steak, and ate it too! If she was still with us she'd roll her eyes ever so slightly and laugh at that description.
Oh, how I miss her. Betsy
To read Betsy's whole blog post visit here.