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My Parkinson's Journey

In which Terri shares a humorous look at her journey with Parkinson's disease and Dystonia:

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

For Crying Out Loud!

Terri Reinhart


My disability benefits were recently approved. In record time, too, as they were approved in less than a month from the time I applied. That’s not supposed to happen! I was told that I’d undoubtedly be denied at first, then I’d have to employ a lawyer, then it could take up to two years to be approved. But that didn’t happen. They saw my records and decided I was disabled enough to not be able to work. They approved this even before seeing the letter from my doctor.

Then it hit me. Was I really that bad?

I rebelled. I cleaned the garage and moved furniture. I gathered trash and another large pile of old things to give away. I pushed myself all day. And then I was flat on my back, exhausted, and couldn’t move for a couple of days. I cried.

It’s embarrassing how easily I can cry. I cried at the end of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. I mean, geez, Spock saves everyone’s life and now he’s dying and there’s that emotional scene where he’s talking to Captain Kirk and no one can do anything to save him. I cried. And I was really grateful that I was alone. And it was much worse whenever I was pregnant. Then I could watch slapstick comedy and tear up. It didn’t take much. I don’t mind crying, actually. If I am sad, it’s a wonderful release and I feel so much better afterwards. Often I can solve problems more quickly after a good cry, too. I rarely can stop tears from coming if they’re going to come, but I will also admit something else. I would really prefer not to cry in front of other people.

Crying in public is not cool. People react. They pat your arm and say something sweet and comforting. They offer you a drink of water and generally do everything in their power to get you to STOP crying. They think you’re upset about something. And maybe you are. Usually, I’m just pissed off that I happen to be crying in public – again. Then the pats on the arm and the sweet words aren’t much help. I rather swear. Or maybe hit something.

If you cry in front of your doctor, you are generally offered drugs, which is fine if you really want drugs. It’s even legal.

It seems to me that since crying is something that humans have done for thousands of years, there must be some purpose to it. And if there is a purpose to crying, why should we be embarrassed or try to hold it back?

I was curious enough about this that I did some research. I wanted to find out if there are any physiological benefits to crying. My research was thorough and complete. I looked it up on Google. I found two articles (you’ll find many more, I just read two), one by Charles Downey and the other by Dr. Kevin Keough. In the first article, I learned that crying in public was considered normal until the Industrial Revolution. At that point, we suddenly needed diligent, focused workers, not emotional ones. Crying became a solitary activity. Before that, even our heroes cried! Odysseus cries in nearly every chapter of Homer’s Iliad.

Dr. Keough talks about the chemistry of tears. It’s amazing!! When we cry out of sadness or frustration, our tears actually contain stress toxins and stress hormones that would otherwise be affecting us physiologically in a negative way. In fact, it is those stress hormones that attack the parts of the brain that are responsible for mood disorders. Crying helps to get rid of those nasty buggers so that our brains can feel safe. And it was even found that the tears that come when one cuts up onions are not the same as the tears that come when we are sad. It’s those tears from sadness that are so healing. Holding back our tears, on the other hand, is not at all healthy.

My mentor teacher always asserted that crying helps prevent head colds. I believe this is so because I have had only one head cold in the last six years. Every time I get the sniffles, I hope that something will make me sad. I don’t like head colds. So far it has worked very well.

After a good cry, there is something else I need. The pat on the arm is fine. The sweet comforting words are also okay. But what I really want at that point is for someone to say something totally off the wall and make me laugh!

Another wonderful release, laughter is like the rainbow after the rain.

People who keep stiff upper lips find that it's damn hard to smile. ” Judith Guest