I just finished reading, “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality” by Michael J. Fox (MJF). It is very well written, with clever prose that describes the most recent challenges he has faced and how he almost lost his well-known optimism. His family, close friends, and his dog Gus are front and center throughout the book. The story writing style made it enjoyable to read while providing tons of insight that readers, whether they have PD or not, will benefit from.
I had more in common with MJF than expected. We were both diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s (although he was diagnosed much earlier, at age 29). We are about the same age, love hanging out with our family, take great pride in what our kids have accomplished – always wanting to spend more time with them than we have a right to expect – especially now that they are adults and no longer living at home, enjoying time with friends, a sense of humor, and being an optimist. He writes, “Much of what is important in my life grew out of my optimism…” I too have had this same result.
MJF succinctly describes something that everyone who has PD understands. “Having Parkinson’s is being in constant flux: in and out, on and off. Every reaction to the drugs is met with an equal and opposite reaction when they wear off.” During these periods every day, you just do your best to get through it while everyone else around you may not recognize the enormity of this daily challenge.
Another area that resonated with me was his description of one of the effects PD has on those who have it. “Gradually…my face began retreating to a passive, almost frozen disposition. It was blank, and I was hard-pressed to enliven it in any way that didn’t seem artificial.”
Years ago as I was walking through the lobby past the receptionist, and heard someone say, “You look so unhappy.” I stopped and explained that one of the many impacts of having PD, is the challenge of having facial expressions that truly reflect your feelings. This was a great opportunity to share the cause and effect and to provide assurance that deep down I am always smiling. I genuinely appreciated the comment and especially the opportunity to provide some insight.
Thank you for reading. – Steve