It’s been nearly two weeks since my wife flew to Charleston to help my son recover from shoulder surgery, a length of time that as a prospect was both frightening and invigorating, with the unfolding reality living up to expectations in either case.
Free-floating anxiety is a typical Parkinson’s symptom, manifesting as a barely controllable panic attack whenever on a medication downswing. Time slows, creating desperately long minutes of foggy indecision where even the mildest noise hurts. Reality mercilessly taunts and baits me in a sadistic merry-go-round as the right side of my body begins to shut down. Feeling intensely vulnerable and nearly frozen in place, I am helpless to influence outcome.
A conscious surrender to life’s inevitabilities is the only viable mitigation while waiting for the medication to kick in. If walking the dogs or engaged in some other, ordinarily innocuous daily ritual, nothing short of pure grit has any chance of fighting through the black cloud of despair, of making it home.
Practicing uncomfortable situations head-on normalizes fear and discomfort until they become another controllable sensation deflated of mystery. It is all a game, a vast, beyond-human-understanding system of contrived decisions and outcomes, a sport with real pain and struggle.
When my wife called to see if I would be okay if she extended her visit from one to two weeks, I immediately said yes despite a pang of apprehension. The associated challenge would be a welcome morale boost, but only if I won. Considering the prospect, I started to smile.
Fair enough. My grin broadened as I remembered how much I enjoyed games as a child. Let’s play.