Parkinson's is an elusive disease. No two patients are alike. Once you think you understand the symptoms or that you have it under control with medication, something changes. Then there are the contributing factors like stress, change, stress, weather, stress. Try as you might to eliminate or reduce the stress, it's still there. What makes it worse is that the stress in Tom's life is caused by those things in our marriage that have always been his responsibility--anything to do with business, finance, insurance, taxes. You can imagine how much those things have come into play with a move, the purchase of a house, the sale of another and income tax time. Believe me, I have learned a lot in the last few months! But, the stress is still present and it has contributed to daily (sometimes more than once a day) periods of extreme nervousness for Tom. Such times make the classic Parkinson's appear and he looks and acts as if he has had no medicine at all. He has difficulty getting up and down, he needs help dressing and his voice drops to a level that can hardly be heard. This started on a regular basis in February and has continued to get worse. Finally, yesterday the nurse called to check on us and when I told her that the weekend had not been good, she said for us to come in today.
The outcome of the visit is that he has another medication change, he will have another MRI to check for any physical changes since the last, he was referred to a GI specialist to follow up on the problems he has had with weight loss and his colon last summer and we are going to Vanderbilt to see if he is a candidate for Deep Brain Stimulation. I think that is done after every thing else has been tried with medication. We're not giving up on the medication, rather getting an opinion in case he needs to go that route later on. Our calendar for the next six weeks suddenly filled up with medical appointments. We had already commented shortly after we arrived in Tennessee that our life seemed to be regulated by the medical appointments we had to keep. We laughed.
Tom is best when I am where he is--not just in the same house, but the same room. I am trying to strike a balance where I can do what he needs/wants and still not feel smothered. Once, during my second course of chemotherapy when Tom was waiting on me hand and foot, I said to him, "We certainly are getting a lot of mileage out of that vow, 'in sickness and in health.'" We laughed. The vow is still being exercised, only the shoe is on the other foot. In Ben Johnsons's little booklet on prayer, Adventure in Prayer, one of his suggested parts of daily prayer is to reaffirm the vows you have taken. Remember what was promised when you joined the church, when you became an officer or other leader, what you promised when you had your children baptized and the vows you made when you were married. Think about promising, vowing before God that you would love, honor and cherish your partner. What does that mean? If you've been married ten, twenty or even forty years can you love your spouse more, honor him/her more, do you cherish your spouse? Thinking on those vows have made me a better wife, but they also remind me of where I fall short. Tom has been and will always be God's gift to me. With God's help we will continue to exercise and keep those vows, each in the ways we can. And we will continue to laugh.