It's been really difficult for me to try to describe what the first year since Keith's diagnosis has been like. For the most part it's been great. I was eight months pregnant when we got the official diagnosis from Dr. W at UVA. I remember during the entire ride there, almost two hours, I was in false labor. Boy was I in pain! I thought for sure that I was going to have our baby right there in the car. But when we arrived at UVA the braxton hicks contractions I was feeling immediately went away as soon as I was able to walk around some. Which was good because I was able to focus on the task at hand - meeting with the neurologist, not having a baby. So I don't want to say the first year since Keith's diagnosis was bad because it's also been our daughter's first year. But for me, it has been very frustrating. There have been times when I have literally wanted to pull my hair out. At times I have wanted to simply knock Keith upside the head. There have been a few tears and lots of prayers. Mostly, it's just been frustrating.
Keith is a smoker. He doesn't seem to have any intention of quitting any time soon. He has never really been one to take much care of his health - eating healthy is something he will only do if I put a plate of veggies directly in front of him. And I've never known him to exercise. I guess I just always thought that when we actually got a true diagnosis, all that would kick in and he'd get his butt in gear. Not so.
I have thought several times over this past year that Keith was in denial. He denies that. I have also thought that maybe he had a bit of depression going on. He denies that as well. Not only has he had no interest in trying to control PD and manage his health, he has shown no desire to join the local PD support groups. I just don't know how anyone can be so ambivalent about having PD. I am the type of person who will take drastic measures to have at least some type of control over it. When Keith was diagnosed, my attitude was "okay, now it's time to make serious changes in our lives. We need to prepare - we need to sell the house and move into a single story home, revamp our insurance, rearrange our daily schedules to accommodate your new workout routine . . " etc., etc. Keith's attitude was "I'm fine, don't worry. No need to change a thing." As you can see, it was very frustrating for me.
Someone told me recently that when someone is diagnosed with any type of chronic illness, there are usually two ways they will respond. They will either say "I have such and such illness, but I am not going to let it ruin my life. I will make whatever necessary changes I have to in order to see that it does not." Then there are those that say "I have such and such illness, but I am not going to let it ruin my life. I am not going to let it change my life in any way." Keith is definitely the latter. So it was no surprise that I ratted him out to Dr. W on our recent annual visit. It did not go over well. Dr. W actually swore at Keith. He told him that exercises is the most important thing he can do to slow the progression of the disease. It is more important that any other treatment or medication. He also stressed to Keith how important it was for him to quit smoking. Go Dr. W!!!!! We'll see if it does any good . . . .
Monday, December 31, 2007
In the beginning there was a man named Keith. He had a wife named Mary, 23 years his junior. Keith and Mary each had a son from previous marriages, named Bryan and Hailey. They were very much in love. Soon after they married they decided to have a baby. While they were pregnant with a little girl Keith was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. The news was sad, to say the least, but not surprising. Keith had been developing symptoms for PD for quite some time. It started with a bit of restless leg symdrome at night, then a quiver in his jaw, a little trembling in his left hand. His posture was stiff and stooped and he rarely moved his left arm at all. So it was actually a relief to finally get a confirmation on what Keith and Mary already suspected. It was time to move forward - to get aggressive with treatment and learn to control the disease. It was time to make changes to their future plans and strategize on how to best provide for their growing family. It was time to take inventory of their lives and what really mattered. It was time to begin their lives anew - to begin life with Parkinson's Disease.