Thursday, 9 May 2013

I don’t care about my symptoms

Before I was diagnosed I was still suffering from the symptoms of Parkinson’s, I just didn’t know it. When the diagnosis came, something changed because life suddenly became a lot harder to deal with. What changed?

I don’t think my symptoms got worse the instant I was told; the act of telling someone they have Parkinson’s doesn’t create or deepen the disease in them. The thing that changed was the awareness of the prognosis of Parkinson’s; it wasn’t the labelling of my symptoms that was important, it was knowledge of how they would get worse in the future. This made my symptoms too important to me in such a way that I obsessively monitored and interpreted each fluctuation in their severity as a prelude to my decline. Soon, my symptoms and the worst possible interpretation of them was all I could see. I cared too much about the prognosis until it became hyper-real and certain.

Prognosis means predicting the likely outcome of a disease. Can we ever know the future? The prognosis of Parkinson’s allowed me to build an elaborate and detailed future that was made out of nothing, merely thin prediction and likelihood. I became lost in this empty “future” and as a result missed my present circumstances as a whole. To escape the prison of a non-existent “future” you have to break it at the source; you have to declare, I don’t care about my symptoms. Try to recapture the feeling pre-diagnosis of the symptoms lived in day by day, naked without the empty finery of a prognosis.

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s is very difficult emotionally because it stretches you into a non-existent future. Due to its non-existence, you are powerless to change this “future”. Seeing the symptoms in the context of now, which means caring a little less about them, ensures you remain in the present. 

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly what you mean. Last month, 9 months after I was diagnosed, I decided I would go on that return trip to India where I'd lived for two years. On arrival the chaos and the excitement gave me something much more interesting to focus on and my symptoms seemed far less prominent - in my mind at least. I've come back with a completely different frame of mind determined to focus on what I can do rather than what I can't ... long may it last!