Ha! Ha! Gotcha! No, I am not preggers (not yet, anyway). I was actually thinking about my reaction to Keith's diagnosis. I was very pregnant with Rielly-Anne at the time. My reaction was not one of initial shock, nor could you call it depression or denial. We did suspect, afterall, that he had it, so it was really just a matter of making it official. Still, there was a seed of hope that just maybe he really didn't have PD. The neurologist sent him for all sorts of tests due to the possibility that his symptoms could have been the result of a minor stroke, or something similiar. So through all of this I held out hope that it was something much more simple.
After the official diagnosis, everyone in Keith's family rallied around us, offering support and help in anyway that was needed. Keith's brother has PD Plus, or MSA, and is in really bad shape right now. The entire family knew all too well by that point what PD is capable of doing. They were very supportive. My family - well, not so much (so I thought).
I don't want to put my family in a bad light. I don't want to make you think they are indifferent, or that they don't care. That couldn't be further from the truth. It's just that, unlike Keith's side of the family, they had never before been in contact with a PWP. All they knew is what they saw on t.v. of Michael J. Fox and Ali. So all I got from them was "Oh, that's too bad." That's pretty much it. Now, had I not been pregnant at the time, I would most likely have seen the situation a little more clearly. But when you're in your third trimester of pregnancy and feeling like a chronically fatigued beached whale in the midst of constant pms, you tend to get a bit emotional. And emotional I did get. I sent out an email spouting off a bunch of angry, poor-pitiful-me rhetoric, and I said some pretty nasty things about some of my siblings. In return I got, among other things better left unrepeated, "We aren't going to hold his hand and baby him and make him feel like an invalid!" and "What's the big deal? Michael J. Fox has had it for years, and he's going just fine!"
Two things became very clear to me at that point -
1. Some of my family members truly did not understand PD and how if affects a person, and it was my job to enlighten them, rather than get angry at them.
2. Some of my family members truly do understand PD, and truly are concerned about Keith. It was important to them that they not do or say anything that would strip him of his dignity and pride.
My family has been very supportive of Keith and I in our journey through PD. I have made it my place to inform them as much as I can. And we are both eternally thankful for the love and support we receive from both sides of the family. It would be so difficult to get through all of this without them.