This is not a self-pity piece. It may sound like it initially, but in reality it is simply an honest assessment of what Parkinson's has taken from me since the onset of its symptoms several years ago.
I can no longer drive. Maybe I should clarify that statement. I am proficient at driving, or more specifically my Parkinson's symptoms "drive" my wife, Nancy, to her wits end.
As far as driving a motor vehicle it is probably coming up on a couple of years since I turned in my car keys. Try as I might to remember the last time I drove anywhere, I can't, which probably means it was not a trip of great importance.
While I cannot recall if my last excursion behind the steering wheel was to cover a meeting or to pick up something from the grocery store, I do remember how I felt when the neurologist said I no longer should be driving. I still felt I was a safe driver, but as time has passed I agree I no longer have any business driving.
I can no longer take photos. Anyone who knows me and my passion for photography realizes what a bitter pill to swallow putting away my cameras has been. I have had Nancy and our oldest son, Caleb, hold a camera while I pressed the shutter release, but it is no replacement for framing a photo and taking the image myself.
At least I have hundreds of favorite photos stashed on a computer hard drive down in the basement of the Henley hacienda. But considering I can no longer go up and down steps without assistance, it has been quite a while since I have laid eyes on those images.
I can no longer type with my hands. While I will not say I was the fastest typist you could have seen in my pre-Parkinson's days, I was certainly faster then than I am today when I must rely on a voice-to-text computer program to generate stories and columns.
I can no longer barbecue. There was a time when I would grill quite frequently. But because my balance is not what it used to be, which would put me at risk standing over a bed of hot coals, it appears the summer of 2021 will pass without my barbecue tongs seeing the light of day.
I can no longer do yard work. While this might seem like a Parkinson's plus, I actually miss the mowing and trimming of my small yard. Again, balance issues have put me on the sidelines.
The big challenge was finding someone willing to do the work without charging an arm and leg. We hired a high school student who has done a good job. We thought about having our next-door neighbor to do the task since he had offered a year or so ago if the Parkinson's reached a level where I could not do the work. However, I did not have the heart to ask since he exhibits the same level of enthusiasm as I used to when it came time to mow on a summer's day.
I can no longer go on long walks. I used to relish extended excursions through Sodalis and Riverview Park. But these days my "engine" tends to run hot. Consequently the most I can do is a few blocks before I am ready to head home.
I can no longer eat most meals without assistance. With one shaking hand I could compensate. However, with two moving hands I either have to ask for help or a drop cloth.
I can no longer keep weight on. Parkinson's is a diet I would not recommend. My weight has dipped from 180 to 190 pounds to 150 pounds, despite three meals and a couple of snacks every day.
Most recently I have added to my "can't do" list the use of a telephone. For the longest time I would carry a phone in my pocket to use to call for help if I was home alone and wound up on the floor. I even went so far as to memorize seven different phone numbers of friends and family that I intended to use if I wound up in trouble.
Not long ago it occurred to me that I had wasted the time memorizing those numbers after attempting to call the school district one afternoon. After misdialing on repeated tries because of my shaking hands I concluded that I might not be able to use a phone in an emergency.
One day Nancy asked me the number of the downtown shop where she works, which happened to be on the list of numbers I had memorized. After correctly reciting that phone number I realized that maybe memorizing those numbers had not been a waste of time after all.