I got the call at about 12: 30 this afternoon. It’s official. My sister has Parkinson’s Disease. It wasn’t a shock really. She has had numerous symptoms over the last couple of months. She lost her balance at a graduation ceremony. A few weeks later she fell and broke her wrist so badly that she required surgery. The tremors in her hands have been present for a long time. Finally, a doctor put it all together and suggested that she undergo numerous tests. The diagnosis came this morning. When she called to let me know, I asked her how she was doing. She said she was numb. She tried to go back to work but she couldn’t. She was just too numb from getting the news today. That is a feeling that I can completely understand.
God knows I learned a long time ago not to be surprised when challenging things happen in my life, or to those around me. I might need to take some time to process a situation, but I like to think that eventually, I know how to get up and keep going. That skill is what has helped me to survive. I was born with cerebral palsy. My brother was paralyzed in a car wreck when he was 20. He has been a wheelchair user since 1987. And now my sister has Parkinson’s Disease. My siblings and I are three for three when it comes to disability. That isn’t a reality my family would have ever expected. I guess it just is what it is.
It would be so easy to bang my fist against a wall today and give into the “whys” and the “what is going to happen?” And if that is what I chose to do there would be nothing wrong with that. I have just learned that for me, at the end of the day all that will give me is a hand that hurts and many more questions than I started with. I don’t want to spiral south in a nosedive. I have done that before. And it didn’t work so well.
When my brother was paralyzed, everything I understood about the world turned inside out. I wondered how a good God could let this happen. My family already knew what it was like to have a family member with a disability. Didn’t that make us exempt? What would be the point otherwise? Since I had never known any different, I wondered what the process of adjusting to a disability would be like for my brother. And I asked why. A whole bunch of times. The process went on for several months. I never got any satisfactory answers. Over a period of years, I came to the conclusion that my brother’s accident happened because it happened. He survived it. These days he is thriving. And God was there the whole time.
So, this time I am going to make the choice to go with what I know.
I know that challenges that affect my life tend to be much less overwhelming when I take them one day at a time. Or maybe five minutes at a time if that is what I need to do.
I know that there are new medicines and therapies being developed all the time for all kinds of things. I read an article recently that said that boxing was good for Parkinson’s because it required balance and coordination. Who knows? My sister might be the next Laila Ali.
I know that good things can come out of seemingly bad situations.
I know that it is okay to cry and to say “It’s not fair” for a while, as long as I don’t get stuck there.
I know that I have several good people in my life who I can talk to if I need to.
I know that my sister can be a badass when she needs to be.
I know she has all kinds of support around her. And that her husband and kids will be okay, no matter what this diagnosis means for them.
I know that my sister has lived in a world with the dynamic of disability for many years. Hopefully, that means she can adjust to what she needs to whenever she needs to, and that she doesn’t see disability as anything much different than the norm.
I know the good things in my life are still good.
And I know I will do all I can for my sister, despite living several states away.
God knows the whys. God knows my sister can handle this. And indirectly so can I.