Ross Putnam

Member for

3 years 11 months

My wife, Paula, and I sat in a nondescript exam room hoping to be reassured my arm not swinging was nothing to worry about. Anxiety was high. We didn’t know the doctor.

Ross PutnamFinally, the doctor arrived. With a quick glance at me, he said flatly, “You have Parkinson’s.” If he said anything else, neither of us heard it. An eternity swept past before our eyes and — in the same instant — the universe ground to a halt.

We staggered to our car. I felt as if I had been flash frozen. As my brain thawed, it flooded my consciousness with questions. What did the doctor see so quickly? Was he really sure? Was I that much of an open book? Is there no negotiating terms of this life sentence?

I wondered why me, why now, what did I do to deserve this? Any hope or confidence I might have held onto eroded.

It was hours later that the impenetrable darkness which had almost obliterated me slowed. We began coming back to life.

Slowly, I began appreciating that a new dawning was coming. It’s been 13 years.

With Paula’s loving encouragement, I began writing poems about this journey of living with a degenerative neurological disease, which has culminated in publishing a book called “The Many Moods of Dis-Ease; Who I Am, As I Am.” My story is best told through the poems in this book, some of which I share below:



I am so very transparent

    My gait stumbles and catches

It sometimes helps to say out loud

    “It’s Parkinson’s Disease”

It sometimes helps to hear

    “I’m here for you, I’ve got you”


I am so very private

    You’ll not see me seethe

It sometimes helps to throw a cane

    As if it were the cause

It sometimes helps to hear

    The clatter of its metal on floor


I am so very aware

    How I present makes a difference

It sometimes helps to say 

    “I’m fine,” when I’m not

It sometimes helps to hear

    The declaration that affirms


I am so very intimate

     This disease and I are one

It sometimes helps to be quiet

     To listen to the silence





What surrounds me I cannot see

Restricting movement hampers me

I want to burst the unknown constraints


Within those limits lies transformation

The invitation is to surrender

To the coming change of new life


Words have yet to be discovered

To fully tell me what is to come

I dwell in uncertain hope


That chrysalis, my chrysalis,

Is to be my home, my haven

Till the day I  embrace my new being


How long it will take I cannot tell

No longer a  caterpillar, not yet a butterfly

I resist the transformation


I hang here more comfortable now

I wonder what lies ahead

I open myself to the unfolding


It sometimes helps to hear

    The tranquility of nothing


If you are newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the Parkinson’s Foundation has resources that can help. Learn more at


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