The diagnosis of Parkinson's disease that I received seven years ago felt like a death sentence. The visit to my doctor was prompted by my teen-aged son Jonathan, who told me he was worried I had Parkinson's.
There it was, the answer to the vague symptoms that had bedeviled me for years, now so readily apparent that the doctors agreed with Jonathan.
Since then PD has robbed me of my occupation as a psychiatric nurse, and the ability to make the commute to John Jay in NYC, where I was studying forensic psychology.
My gait resembles Quasimodo's, and my twisted smile scares babies in supermarkets. When Jonathan was killed in a motor vehicle accident a year ago, I did not think my broken body could survive a broken heart.
My father taught us when your lot in life is lemons, you make lemonade. I could no longer practice my profession, but now that my brain synapses - reawakened by the manufactured dopamine in my Parkinson's meds - were alive and buzzing with activity, I could use my computer to pattern pictures and work with words.
I decided to write a book. I wondered, as the sentences spilled out faster than I could type them on the keyboard, how long my brain had been asleep for lack of dopamine?
I wrote one book, a mystery about a nurse with PD. And then another. I recently finished a third one. Although I am still what they call in writing circles "pre-published," I am proud.
The poem I sent was one of many ostensibly written by one of my characters. Recently, I began to design greeting cards and invitations for family and friends. I also adapt photographs. The one I submitted is my sister at her Medieval wedding (the dragon was not invited).
I don't know why I feel so driven to create. Maybe it's the meds, maybe it's the race against time with a predator named Parkinson's that I will most assuredly lose, and the need to leave something of myself behind. Maybe it's because, for now at least, I can.