"Sara! Come sit down with me and listen to this song," my father said. With a sigh, I try to find an excuse to get to the kitchen and help my mom with the dishes or take the dog out for yet another walk. You see, my dad sits comfortably in his La-Z-Boy recliner for the majority of the day, watching endless classic rock videos that take him back to the normal life he once enjoyed... the life before Parkinson's disease (PD).
We diligently search to find some purpose of life for him. My father is currently in stage 4. Lucky for him, his grandchildren keep him on his toes with the occasional, "Grandpa, catch!" as a workout ball comes flying at him full force. Or, the newest fuzzy addition to the family jumps on him to lick his beard, scampering for all those yummy scraps from the previous meal. He gets his fair share of attention, whether he likes it or not!
By far, I have the most caring mother a person could ask for. She is selfless in every way when it comes to my father. I mean, who gets a bowl of seasonal fruit, scrambled eggs and home-made whole wheat bread for breakfast every day! She cares for his every need and takes on the burden of a life that was handed to her unexpectedly. We all make plans and goals for our future. My parents longed to serve a mission for our church and travel the world together, but the cards just didn't deal that hand.
The road has been a long, burdensome one. My parents have gone through five different neurologists, each one prescribing him different medication — with different side effects, from horrible tremors to hallucinations. We take him to non-stop physical therapy sessions, frequent dentist appointments because eating and brushing is very difficult for him, try different breathing treatments and provide in-house care. Long-term disability is another hurdle, but if you have the right resources, it can be a blessing in the long-run. Bottom line, those who are in this boat know that the storm is tremendous!
Now what? We all have the ability to choose happiness or sorrow. We can mope around or do something about it! And that is just what my family did. We go on an outing, at least once a month, to take my father out of his comfort zone and into the great outdoors. He gets outside occasionally, but this is an outing that would involve a longer period of time with much more activity.
So, off we go! Every drug that has been prescribed to my dear old dad cannot give him the joy and stimulation of the great outdoors. Just this last weekend we spent the day in a regional park, listening to the birds sing, watching the squirrels chase each other and laughing as we raced around in a four-seater pedal bike. My dad heightened his senses and experienced life!
It’s difficult to see my father endlessly watch TV and stay inactive. Inactivity can lead to slowed speech and crippling mobility. We all make a concentrated effort to improve his quality of life through the God given beauties of the Earth.
I now believe that quality of life is more important than life itself. As loved ones and family, we have learned to accept the change Parkinson's has brought into our lives. It allows us to focus on the things we CAN change in order to give him the best life he can possibly have. That's the bigger picture!