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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.

If you can't stand the heat, stay away from mom

Terri Reinhart

The Fantastic Four got it wrong.  The Human Torch should have been a woman - over 50.  I knew my hot flashes were intense but I didn't realize just how bad they had become till the kids pulled out the marshmallows and sticks.  No need for a campfire, they'll just find mom. 

After my hysterectomy, my doctor told me that if I didn't have any hot flashes in the first two months after the surgery, I probably wouldn't have them at all.  I was listening intently, as was my whole body.  My body often likes to play practical jokes on me.  It likes to make me do things that I don't have any intention of doing, like suddenly walking backwards or twisting up like a pretzel.  I should have known it wouldn't let an opportunity like this pass by.

Two months after my hysterectomy, I was celebrating, thrilled to know that I had made it through without any menopause symptoms at all.  None, that is, except for the ease at which I could cry while watching old British comedies or reading the back of cereal boxes.  All the while I was celebrating, however, my body was laughing in a most sinister way.  If you are over 50, you know that laugh from the old cartoons with Muttley the dog.  Had I not been celebrating, I might have remembered that the day was not over yet.  The two months would be over at midnight.  What a wonderful practical joke this would be!

At exactly 11:59 pm, my body suddenly burst into flame.  I now know what it feels like to spontaneously combust.  It was like having a fever for three days, all compacted into two minutes.  I threw the covers off me and started to gasp for air.  Within a few seconds, the cold air hit my sweaty body, bringing a chill that made me shiver uncontrollably.  I frantically pulled all the blankets around me, leaving my husband in the cold, and snuggled to warm up.  As soon as I was almost comfortable, it happened again.  My inner blowtorch reignited, forcing me to send the blankets flying off across the bed.  This was repeated many times.

The fact that my husband did not leave me right then convinced me that he really does love me.  

The next morning, I took a deep breath and decided that I was not going to let a few hot flashes get me down.  It's a natural process, I told myself, and so there must be some physiological benefit to them.  After all, fevers can be very beneficial in ridding the body of toxins.  Maybe hot flashes do this, too, sort of like "flash pasteurization". 

I wonder if it's also part of the natural process to want to bite your family.

My husband deserves a special award for somehow managing to survive in a household with three females - one going through puberty, one going through menopause, and one expecting a baby.  When he made the decision to retire in the middle of all this, the family should have given him a plaque proclaiming him "Masochist of the Year".  Who in their right mind would decide to stay home at a time when the clouds of hormones enveloping their dear ones were thicker than his pipe tobacco smoke? 

Hot flashes wouldn't be so bad if we could only control them.  Just think of the power we would wield if only we could say "Flame on!" or "Flame off!"  Not only would we save money on heating our house, we would also be assured that people would take us seriously, especially if they wanted to keep their eyebrows. 

It's been almost 8 months since the hot flashes started.  I'm okay.  For the most part, I've gotten used to them and only on rare occasions do I growl at my family.  They've learned when to stay away from me.  It's a lot, though.  It's not easy being female, what with menstrual cramps, childbirth, and menopause.  We've got it rough, but then, so do most superheroes.

Excuse me, I have to go.  The kids are getting out the marshmallows again.