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by Billie Hockman

I am 74 years old and have had Parkinson's for ten years. That is when I was diagnosed...who knows when it really started?

Getting out of a chair, turning over in bed, or getting up is difficult. When I told my doctor that I was having trouble getting dressed or undressed ( buttoning, zipping or hook-and-eyes), and fastening jewelry, she checked my arm movement and said I had a “cog-wheeling” arm. Then I knew why I was having difficulty playing catch with my grandson. She said I had Parkinson’s and started me on “sinemet."

I miss sewing my tennis dresses with matching hats. I hate paying someone to shorten my slacks. I am a disaster in the kitchen! Slicing, dicing, and peeling are too dangerous. The last cake I tried to bake ended up on the floor on the way to the oven. My “care-giving” husband cleaned it up. That was about the time I decided high-heeled shoes were not safe for walking. My care giver can do anything I can do better, so meal preparation, shopping and laundry are not a problem. I am lucky that he is patient and willing. He can even bake pies with the peaches from our tree in the yard.

My shaky hands keep me from taking photographs, and it is hard to control the mouse when using the computer, not to mention key-boarding itself. Keying locks on my car, or front door, is hard to do, as is fastening my seat belt. I also have difficulty with gift wrapping, turning pages, dialing a cell phone, and sewing a loose seam or button. Darn...I was just getting the “hang” of calligraphy, and I used to make beautiful roses with ribbon. I can’t paint my fingernails anymore or apply eye make-up, but I have given in to manicures and pedicures. What a treat to have your legs massaged while you watch “Oprah."

My bridge “buddies” are wonderful. They shuffle and deal for me. My tennis “buddies” try to hit the ball to me so I don’t have to run so far. If I cannot get to it, I just say “nice shot." I still go out to lunch with them to celebrate all our birthdays. I still go to the 24-hour fitness club for exercise and to Tai Chi to help maintain my balance. When I am home, I watch my favorite shows on TV and watch movies from our collection of them. I read a lot. When I was teaching, I always felt guilt reading anything that was not educational. Now I just read to enjoy!

I miss doing charity work. I enjoyed working for the Red Cross blood bank, local libraries, theaters, and schools. But, really, there is nothing wrong with reading, watching television, going out to lunch, and playing cards. I know there are lots of ladies who would love to be a “lady of leisure” like me.

Posted by Billie Hockman on July 16, 2009

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