When people hear about the bad side of love, they think abuse or unrequited love. Parkinson’s scorched earth policy taught me that love has other dark sides.
I live in a forest. You’ll find Mylar balloon trees everywhere in my house. Butterflies, Disney characters, Valentine hearts, and glittering stars. At one time, Mike and I used to waltz under the fruits that grew on them. When we weren’t dancing, he worked outside in his tomato garden. Other times we’d browse brochures with which to plan amazing vacations in Florida, Nevada, Aruba, and on two occasions, Italy. At a party, he’d regale people with tales of his years in the Navy during the Vietnam War. For his living, he counseled unemployed workers looking for compensation, and the office became his second family. Time spent around other people enabled him to escape the reality of Viet Cong capturing people and Parkinson’s disease invading his body.
“Scorched earth” comes from the military strategy the US used to fight the Viet Cong. This strategy involved the destruction of crops, homes, and resources vital to the enemy. I can’t remember when Mike’s war with Parkinson’s began, but his disease whispered “scorched earth,” with gardening, driving, and activities of daily living becoming the casualties. The process might have started with tremors and loss of energy, but it ended with frequent falls, necessitating a wheelchair and admission to a nursing home. It’s not just about my inability to lift. Parkinson’s stiffens the body so that it becomes a dead weight. The docs came up with magic pills to contain the symptoms, but Mike’s body couldn’t tolerate their side effects.
I rate my visits with Mike into three classes: good, semi-good, and bad. Last two visits were good ones. Mike and I chatted as if he were healthy. He’ll handle a spoon and fork without help. His voice came through clear. Sometimes he might ask me about my balloons, and last time out, he encouraged me to buy a generator because of our harsh winter. On semi-good days, the alertness is there, but he’ll have trouble opening his eyes. He’s not able to answer, and when he does, people can’t understand him. On bad days, the dementia comes out in full bloom with hallucinations. On those days, he’s not allowed to be alone in his room because he tries to get up, and falls. What’s more, his personality changes have alienated him from friends and relatives. I think a lot of it is because Parkinson’s hereditary, and some relatives fear they might get it, too.
Thankfully, my family adopted him and visit. Bingo, movies, and other activities keep Mike engaged, and for a few moments he can forget his troubles. Sometimes I bring balloons for him and other residents. The staff has come to know me as “Balloon Lady.” When Mike embraces and hugs me, I know I’m in for a great visit. Sometimes though, the good visits can be tough because then I realize what we lost. Parkinson’s can’t destroy his spirit and his smile has endeared him to the aides and nurses. I’m hoping that a research scientist is reading this blog and works harder at coming up with effective treatment.
I’ve wish to thank my family and buddies who’ve supported me with Mike’s illness. My writing projects continue, and in my next book, I might introduce a character with Parkinson’s. I’m taking it one day at a time.
Barbara will be awarding an eBooks to a randomly drawn commenter.
1st prize Night to Dawn 25 PDF
2nd prize Steel Rose PDF
3rd prize Close Liaisons PDF
I wish that I had known Michael when he was well, Barbara. Stricken with Parkinson’s myself 5 1/2 years ago (as you already know), I can relate to this very well. Rest in peace, Michael.
Barbara, sad, heartfelt, moving, and such a tribute to your marriage and your fine man. Such a beautiful piece of writing. Thank you.
Pat, thanks so much for your kind thoughts. Barbara of the Balloons
I was touched my your post. I can only say you have my best wishes, and the picture of you and Mike is lovely. I hope for many more good visits.
Glad you like the picture. I’m hoping for more good visits, too. Barbara of the Balloons
What a beautiful but sad story. Many people’s health concerns ( mine included ) pale in comparison. I am so glad that Mike has you in his life with your unconditional love. I’ll pray for both of you but wish I could do more.
Colleen, prayers always help. Appreciate it! Barbara of the Balloons
I can only imagine what you go through on a daily basis….Mike is lucky to have you and your family to help him through the dark days 🙂 x
Some days aren’t too bad. I consider myself lucky to have a caring family. Barbara of the Balloons
A wonderful article, Barbara. Ginger and I count our Blessings every day, knowing that our health could be worse. Parkinsons and dementia is a terrible thing, and you’re right, what it does is like Scorched Earth. God Bless, and know that we are thinking about you and Mike.
Thank you for your kind thoughts. 🙂
Yes. It is always refreshing to see the power of true love. God Bless you both.
Thank you! 🙂
I like this picture of you two. I never saw Mike standing but I’ve seen his smile. Nicely written and heartwarming.
There was a time when Mike played baseball. Thanks so much for your thoughts. 🙂
What a moving and informative article. I hope that you and Mike continue to have good visits.
from your mouth to God’s ears. Thanks. Barbara of the Balloons 🙂