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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.

A Bucket List

Terri Reinhart

A number of years ago, a colleague of mine challenged me to create a list of 100 things that I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime. It sounded like one of those good and noble things to do, so of course I did it. Naturally, I will do anything that is good and noble.

 

There’s been a movie made about this and so now it’s called a “Bucket List”, meaning that you write down all those things you want to do before you kick the bucket, hand in your dinner pail, shuffle off this mortal coil, take the last bow, and hop on the last rattler. It seems like everyone is making a list. Now it’s not only good and noble, it’s also fashionable.

 

Maybe it’s time to review mine. Unfortunately, the computer ate it. I think it was the crash of 2007, when I lost my parent/teacher conference notes, family photographs, journal, and found out what an external hard drive is for. Anyway, my list is gone. I do remember a few things. It had a lot in common with my daily to-do lists: finish cleaning my workroom, paint the kitchen, and build a patio in our garden. Not a thrilling read.

 

There was one item on the list that was interesting; however, that one will have to go. I will not pose nude for a life drawing class. It’s not that I have suddenly become overly modest or that I am worried about my not so perfect body.  That’s actually the point. Human beings come in all shapes and sizes and they are all beautiful, even if not all their bits are quite what our society sees as attractive. It’s my humble opinion that all students, beginning in high school, should be required to take a life drawing class and that the models should be a diverse group.But, as much as I sincerely believe in these classes, I have to admit, I cannot do this. I get cold easily now, and when I get cold, I sneeze. When I sneeze... well, let’s just say, it wouldn’t work.

 

Since my list has vanished somewhere into cyber world, I asked my family and friends for help. What would they put on their list? My daughter wants to ride a camel. One of my sons wants to write a really thick novel, one that he has fully illustrated. My good friend, Eric, would go white water rafting and sky diving. Andrea would take a three week holiday in Greece. Vicki would go to Israel to see the places where Jesus walked, Chris would buy his pickup truck, and Mike would drive to their mountain cabin and spend an entire day hiking with his family.

 

I’m not exactly sure what I’d put on my list. Maybe I’d add the tandem sky diving experience. I would also like to be able to play a musical instrument, very well. Of course, I’d mostly like to just snap my fingers and suddenly be able to play an instrument! Learning to play is a lot of work.

 

When I look back on everything that’s happened in my life so far, however, I’d have to say that the most precious moments to me were those that were not planned and would not be anything that I would ever have thought to put on a list such as this. I never planned out ahead of time that we would have a foster child. Who could have known that I would one day help rescue a baby woodpecker and hand feed it for five days until we found a rescue organization? I never planned on working for three years, for minimum wage, in a nursing home. I always planned on having animals, but the baby goats were a bonus. The biggest unplanned event in our lives would have to be our daughter. We hadn’t planned to have another child. She planned on having us, though, and she was and is still our most amazing unplanned bonus!

 

I once had a dream that my doctor called me at home. In the phone call, he told me that my health issues were much more serious than they had realized and that I only had three days to live. I remember, very clearly, going into a panic for just a moment, then suddenly saying to myself, “What am I doing? I don’t have time to panic. If I only have three days, I need to get busy. After all, I should clean the house and cook a few dinners to put in the freezer, finish the laundry, and call Rev. Hindes. I have to plan the funeral.” My mind was suddenly a whirl of recipes, menus, folding clothes, and choosing my favorite songs.

 

I did the whirlwind thing for awhile, in a scatterbrained sort of way and then I stopped. I took a deep breath and sat down. I slowly took out a few sheets of good quality paper and a nice pen. The heck with the housework and cooking; and when does one plan their own funeral anyway? I forgot about everything else I wanted to accomplish and sat down to write love letters to my husband, my children, and my friends.

 

Now, back to my bucket list. I will still start over again. Then I will have all sorts of ideas for whenever I feel the need to rebel a little and do something big. But I also plan to leave every other line blank. I want to leave some room for all those things that I would never think to put on my list. Hopefully, I will recognize them when they happen and then I can go back and fill in the blanks.

 

And, just in case I don’t have three days warning before I hop on the last rattler, I’ll start writing those letters.