My home is a balloon forest. Balloon trees grow in every room. Throughout the day, Mike loves to admire the Mylar fruits that blossom on them. No one suspects at first glance that he is being haunted by a vampire called Parkinson’s disease.
I can’t recall when Mike’s war with Parkinson’s began, only that he became the prisoner. Back in 1996, when Mike received his diagnosis, his neurologist assured him the disease would not kill him. He went about his business earning his potatoes, hanging out with his buddies, never understanding until later about Parkinson’s scorched earth policy.
The docs have come up with a lot of magic drugs to fight off this vampire. Mike is allergic to most of them. He realized his relief in 2003 when the docs performed deep brain stimulation. They did this by implanting rods in his brain, and pacers, if you will, in his chest. These pacers cause the rods to release dopamine where it counts to stave off the motor symptoms.
Those who have read my book Dark Side of the Moon may wonder why I got my idea for the Kryszka medical technology. This was one of my sources. Mike had his surgery for the left brain in 2001 and the right in 2003. We learned about the disease’s scorched earth policy after his second operation, when worsening fatigue forced him to miss more and more days at work. Finally, rather than lose benefits, he retired on disability, and that was when the disease whispered “scorched earth” for the first time.
The speech and swallowing difficulties came next. In 2005 his disease demanded that he take all liquids with thickener. On the heels of that came the loss of his license. Finally, as of the last year, problems with mobility and the health insurance quagmire. Somewhere behind the balloon trees you’ll find hand grips and the like, along with calculators and spreadsheets. Mike has been taking it all in stride, having done time in the Navy back in the 60′s.
I continued on with my day job and writing projects. Still do. My next book will in fact feature a protag who is fighting rheumatoid arthritis, another disease that practices the scorched earth policy, and at the same time, she must slay monsters to stay alive. You don’t know how strong you are until necessity demands it.
And so I carry on, but have been silent on a lot of my old authors’ forums. Some of my buddies have asked where I’ve been, and they ask about Mike.Â I’m here to assure everyone NTD is doing well, and to thank everyone for their sentiments. But Mike could use some thoughts and prayers.