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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 I was a car, my husband would have traded me in by now

Terri Reinhart

Today is the official last day of the year. Everything, even the planet, is a year older. Time is taking its toll on our household. During 2012, our washing machine went out on us twice, our dishwasher gave up completely, everything needs to be painted, and my doctor tells me I need my electrical works rewired.

If I was a car, my husband would have traded me in by now. Let's face it, would anyone keep a car around if the shock absorbers were shot, the heating and air conditioning came on by themselves, often getting mixed up as to which was which, and the transmission had gone haywire? It's not as if we get rid of cars when the ashtrays get dirty, but there comes a point.

Our old Toyota had a sticky valve in the carburator. When it stalled, I immediately turned on the hazard lights and popped open the hood. Our son, John (age 10), got out, took off the air cleaner and stuck a pencil into the valve to keep it open while I restarted the car. Then he put everything together and jumped back in. We kept that car going like that for a long, long time.

Another old Toyota had problems with the ignition. If we took the key out, we had no assurance we could get it back in and turn it. We had the same problem with the door lock. No problem. We simply drove the car and left it unlocked with the key in the ignition where ever we went. Either we got lucky, or it was actually stolen many times, driven around the block and returned.

Our Ford van had a lot of miles on it, but we still kept it – until the transmission went out. At first, I would put it in first gear and rev up the engine for several seconds before suddenly it would kick in and jerk forward. Gradually it gave up and refused to go anywhere. By that time, it had over 200,000 miles.

And me? I have to warm up my engine a lot longer these days. It takes at least a couple cups of tea with caffeine. Of course, there's always the chance of flooding the engine. Then we're delayed while I make several trips to the bathroom. Once my engine is running, I try putting myself in gear; however, the transmission is faulty and I often end up going backwards or sideways.

I tend to veer toward the right, which ordinarily means the tires need to be rotated. As I don't have tires, I just keep veering. I think it's my electrical system. At least my mechanic, I mean my doctor says so. She has decided it would be best to get a system in place so I could be hotwired. This would be the DBS or “Drive Better with Science” system. It is run by the “Darn Battery System” which would be implanted in my chest, turning it into a “Durable Boxy Square” 3rd breast.

The fact that the real name is “Deep Brain Stimulation” doesn't help me in the heebie jeebie department. That I've talked to many people who've had this done and speak very highly of it, doesn't really help, either. I'm not ready to do the complete overhaul. For now, I'll make do with the jalopy veering and stalling and crashing.

The crashing has been happening a lot more lately. I won't make any comments on my exterior shape, except it would be worse if I hadn't added larger bumpers in recent years. I admit, from time to time, I worry a little. It's a pain to put up with a beat up old car. Will my husband continue to put up with a beat up old wife?

Not to worry, he says. I'm an old classic and he's sentimental about old classics.