by Louis Bertrand Shalako
All Rights Reserved
Parkinson's Disease is different from Alzheimer's. In Alzeimer's, the classic presentation is of a person 'losing their mind,' especially memory, the kind of dementia where a person doesn't know who they are, or where they live, etc. Nine fresh quarts of milk in the fridge, and they bring another one home. They go to the bank and end up in another town, sort of thing.
Parkinson's is a chemical imbalance in the brain-stem, which affects major locomotor groups. This means coordination, balance, and mobility issues. This imbalance causes false nerve impulses, which cause the tremors, and my dad can have pretty big tremors of the arms that go on a long time. He has trouble sleeping, what with the arms going all the time. My dad has no strength, he can barely open a packet of lunch meat.
He can barely put his coat on, and I have to be there to help him off with it. He gets to the door, and he can just sort of freeze there. It's like he can't remember how to walk. After some time, maybe thirty or forty seconds, his whole body starts to shake, because he wants to walk and just can't do it. Sometimes I go over, hold him gently and give him a little push, and he starts right up!
Routine is a big thing for my dad, although his mind is still maybe eighty or ninety percent...I don't know, maybe a little less.
There are things he can't remember--he might go to put out a bag of garbage and forget there is a bag of salt in the front closet. If he fell on ice, all I know is that it is real hard to get him up again. And if he did it at five a.m. and it was minus 22 degrees, and if I didn't hear it...well.
I cut his meat up for him, I help him on with his socks and pants, dry him off after his bath or shower...I don't know. At some point I started to deteriorate.
It isn't really necessary to justify sticking my old man in a retirement home. But it is necessary to think it all through, and do the best thing for the man. We owe him that much. We've got a nice place for him and he can afford it. Other than that, my sister has been really good, and I'm glad I got some help with it.