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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.

The Truck - or How to Write a Bestseller

Terri Reinhart

When I started to take my writing seriously, our son cleaned up his old laptop computer for me to use. This way, I could still write when our daughter was doing her homework on the family computer. The old laptop was perfect. All I really needed to use was the word processor and fortunately, that was one program that still worked.

There were a few challenges. The top of the laptop, namely the screen, was attached to the bottom of the laptop, ie: the keyboard, by two wires. Setting it up required having something large and heavy right behind the computer so the screen wouldn't fall over. I eventually solved this problem with lots of duct tape and a couple of large “L” brackets, putting one leg of each bracket under the keyboard so that the screen could rest against the other leg. True, the brackets were marring our wood table, but this was solved quickly by putting a towel under everything. It was a ritual I repeated several times each day.

The biggest advantage to using this computer is that I couldn't be distracted by the internet or other fun ways to procrastinate. Nothing else worked. The disadvantage to this computer was that, even after I set it up, it took another five to ten minutes to warm up enough so I could open the program. I was never quite sure that it was going to come on. Needless to say, I saved everything to my flash drive. Not having the internet helped keep me from getting distracted, however, there were times when I needed to research my topic and this would entail running over to the other side of the house, kicking our daughter off the computer for a few minutes, looking frantically for the information I needed so I could let her back on again, and then going back to the dining room to type some more.

It was okay. I could handle it. In fact, there's some precedent to using old beat up writing equipment in coming out with a best seller. J. K. Rowling typed the entire manuscript for the first Harry Potter book on a manual typewriter and look how well that one did.

I was on a roll with my story, too. One night I sat for forty-five minutes working when my husband came in to ask how it was going. I replied that it was going very well, thank you. He looked over my shoulder to see what I had written. “The truck. That's what you've written?” I could tell he was impressed.

Maybe he thought I could do better if I had a computer that wasn't held together by duct tape. The possibility must have occurred to him because a few days later, he gave me an early anniversary gift. It was, and still is, a little Toshiba notebook computer. I'm typing on it now. It's amazing! In next to no time, I was not only able to write, I was also able to access the internet! Now I could write, do my research, check my email, play hangman, and look up new recipes for dinner!

The last one is a nice benefit that the whole family enjoys. My cooking has improved greatly since I can set up my tiny computer on the kitchen counter. The other night we had cheese stuffed hamburgers. Tonight we had Curried Chicken Penne with Fresh Mango Chutney. This is great except my family is starting to expect good meals. With the old laptop, I would get into my writing and fail to realize that it was time for dinner. We had lots of spaghetti, chili, and tacos. No one complained.

I'm not complaining, either. Things are so much better now. If I get stuck with my writing, I can always play a game of hangman, or two, or three. Our daughter is undisturbed in her homework. My writing is coming along quite well. Having a more efficient computer may have knocked me out of running for the next bestseller, however, I am soldiering on. This afternoon I sat writing for nearly an hour. When my husband came out, he looked over my shoulder and read what I had written. I had gotten much farther. He read, “The truck is green.”

He's not complaining, though. He's looking forward to dinner.