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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.

Multiple Choice

Terri Reinhart

I don’t like multiple choice questions, unless it’s a math test.  If it’s a multiple choice math test, then I have a somewhat reasonable chance of maybe, possibly getting something right. 

In other areas, Multiple Choice just doesn’t cut it.  The other day, I was filling out an information sheet about my studio.  I was asked to define my Studio.  It was Multiple Choice and the possible answers were as follows:

a)  Business

b)  Entertainment and the arts

c)  Geography

d)  Technology

e)  Music

f)   Organization

How do I answer this?  My studio doesn’t fit neatly into any of these categories.  Sometimes the studio is for creating art; sometimes it is for creating music.  In the evenings, it provides a quiet get away for my son.  It’s also a place for my daughter to listen to old LPs while she draws.  It’s my sewing room and a quiet place to write or have a phone conversation.  I try to keep it organized but I don’t think that qualifies it to be an Organization.

The studio is a gentle place where friends join me to create art.  A lot of art and craft work does happen in the studio.  We’ve made brooms, baskets, books, more books, dolls, and elves, among other things.  Sometimes our focus is the work, sometimes it is an excuse to come and sit with a cup of tea and talk.  I have time to listen.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything in our lives would fit into neat categories? 

I found myself thinking of this yesterday after yet another visit to one of those delightful medical professionals I see regularly.  The doctor looked at my hands.  He ordered an x-ray then explained that I have the beginnings of osteoarthritis in my hands, carpal tunnel syndrome, and something called “Trigger Finger”.  I will go for some occupational therapy but the doctor was honest with me.  He said that the pain may go away for brief periods but it will most likely always come back.  It seems I have overused my hands over the years. 

I was shocked!  I couldn’t believe that thirty years of knitting, sewing, woodworking, broom making, book binding, felting, doll making, and paper quilting, could possibly have taxed my hands to this point.  I mean, really.  I thought my hands were just being belligerent. I just needed to show them who’s boss. 

After repeated attempts at disciplining my hands and continuing with all my craft work, I now have to concede they just aren’t up to the task.  My hands complain loudly when I knit or handsew and my thumbs have learned how to “just say no”.  You wouldn’t believe how useful it is to have opposable thumbs that actually work.  I have to admit that my crafting days, at least the days of spending hours working on crafts and accomplishing a lot, are over. 

What do I do now?

a)  swear

b)  spend time, money, and energy trying to find a cure

c)  stop all craft work and spend my time watching soap operas

d)  figure out what I can still do and redefine who I am

Choice b) is out.  I don’t have the time, money or energy to put into trying all sorts of possible alternative therapies.  I been there, done that.  I ran choice c) by my family and they collapsed in giggles on the floor.  After years of watching their mother having a minimum of 5 projects going on at any one time, they know that I am unable to watch TV or movies unless I am sewing or knitting.  That leaves choices a) and d).  I think I’ll choose both. 

This might take awhile, choice d) that is.  Choice a) is easy, cheap, and good for when I’m in a tight spot. Swearing is madatory.  As for choice d), I suspect that I will be spending a good part of the rest of my life figuring out who I am and what I should be doing.  Come to think of it, isn’t this kind of what we all do, all the time? 

For now:

The Studio will still be open and I will still give workshops.  I have never liked the phrase, “those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach”.  This is an insult to teachers everywhere.  However, at this point, I can still teach what I can no longer do myself. 

Several friends and Chris have suggested that, perhaps, God or the universe or a higher power is trying to tell me that it’s time for me to focus on my writing.  This I will also do.  I can still tell stories and I can still write.

I can also still listen.  At my lowest point, on a day when it was hard to walk, hard to speak clearly, hard to breathe deeply, hard to find the words I wanted to say, I took comfort in knowing that there was one thing I could always do.  I can always be there for my friends.  I can always listen.

You’re welcome to come by anytime.  I’ll put the kettle on and we can have a cup of tea.