Having Parkinson’s disease comes with its share of pain, from my right hand that shakes too much to my feet being sore from walking with my toes curling under. But some things are just a pain in the mental ass.
Parkinson’s is caused by the loss of dopamine which controls movement. I take the drug Pramipexole, a dopamine agonist that does not make dopamine but fools the brain into thinking it is dopamine. I also take levodopa which makes dopamine. Since my diagnosis, I have gone to see a neurologist every three months or so. One of the questions I’m routinely asked is; do I gamble, drink or shop excessively? It seems that both of the drugs I take have side effects of which impulsive and compulsive behavior is an issue.
Now I have never had the urge to do any of the vices typically asked of me. However, the other day I was reading a few posts from a friend of mine who has Parkinson’s. The subject progressed to impulsive and compulsive behavior and it hit me like a train in the night… I have it! No, I don’t gamble, drink or shop in any obsessive way, but for me it’s the little things I had not taken into consideration.
For example, I arrive home at night; mindfully make sure the lights to my van are off, inside and out. I say mindfully because I know what’s going to happen next. I walk up to the front door, I’m ready to open the house door and suddenly I have to go back to the vehicle to see if I have turned off the lights. I can clearly see from the house door that all the lights are off, but this is not good enough, I must go back and look at the headlights and inside the van to make sure, I could do this 3 or 4 times if I didn’t make myself stop after one trip to the van. Another obsession is my debit card, I will pull it out continuously to make sure it’s’ in my wallet. Now if the wallets in my pocket, I don’t have the desire anymore, only when the wallet is out of my pocket. And when I do laundry, I’m constantly checking my pockets for ink pens. A royal pain!
My attention span has improved tremendously. I have so much more concentration… a blessing, right? But if I am not careful I could spend time attentively doing matters of impulsive/compulsive behavior instead of doing something constructive. Such as having every inclination to write for my blog and then wasting away the hours surfing the web. Yes, I’m more diligent but if its’ spent doing the wrong things? I have a friend, who’s impulsive/compulsion is making list, only to make more lists about the same things, completely ignoring the items on the list to do!
But you know there are others who have it worse than I do. They would go see if the lights are turned off a dozen times and never complain just to trade shoes with me. Despite the pain both physically and mentally, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and I don’t know why. I don’t deserve it, but I can’t help it. At times, I feel like Scrooge on Christmas morning. Maybe it’s just being mindful of every minute and appreciating what unfolds from it; as a lotus blossom. It’s like I’ve been dealt a set of cards and my draw is to have Parkinson’s but with the will and wanting to really embrace life at its smallest and largest most wonderful self. As Blake acknowledge,” the universe in a grain of sand” and it starts from there.
It was Leonardo de Vinci who said an artist must study the lines of nature to even be an artist, much less a great artist. Well, I seem to constantly see those lines of nature and I’m not a great artist. Maybe it’s the art of living, to quote Joseph Campbell. Someone said that not only do we look at nature but nature looks back at us. And it does. Maybe that’s it, we are all looking for a way to complete ourselves and nature is standing there waiting for us to notice and begin.
Now how did I get from impulsive and compulsive to Leonardo de Vinci and those lines? Such is human nature…