Clinicians inform me that a person with bradykinesia moves, just slowly. I wonder how much of that is true. Some days, I feel as though my fingertips and hands are experiencing small repeated 6.5 earthquakes. If I were James Bond, I would order a Martini, “No need to stir. I can shake it myself.” I call this ‘slow death.’
I call it ‘slow death’ due to frustration – frustration from the fact God doesn’t decide to kill me outright and frustration that leaves me with many exasperating components to live. Early morning chores such as showering, dressing, and shaving are experiences of living on the edge. Feelings of anxiety, frustration, embarrassment at not being able to do everyday things are damned depressing. The fact that I look great via Zoom conference calls only forces me even further to minimize poor motor skills, slowness of movement, and fatigue. But I will say this; if you’re suffering from ‘slow death’ condition, I am here to say that you don’t have to be forever optimistic. It’s okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, or even scared. Having such emotional days doesn’t make you a ‘negative person.’ It makes you human.
Humanity does not have to be a vicious battle between Good and Evil, life or death. I do not believe I sit in the shoes of Job while God and Satan while galactic egos battle over an ordinary mortal. (Sorry, God. It’s just the way I feel … today.) I believe the forces of Good intervened allowed me to write and share my story, travel to many countries, and meet many beautiful people. On the other hand, the forces of darkness percolate my body with osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s, so much so that pain constantly reminds me that only it [pain] is my only faithful companion. But what God provides, God can take. Parkinson’s and osteoarthritis are very liveable but is walking only 60 yards at a stretch’ liveable?’ At what point does liveable become incurable and terminal? All of this is far different from the scripted life I imagined.
My scripted life was different. And it had nothing to do with good or evil. At twenty, I imagined owning a reasonably decent home just off some white sandy beach shoreline. I imagined a wife, sunsets, concerts, and making love during early morning rain showers. The actual script had me married twice by 40. Pills hide the pain from 8 partial ligament tears in my left knee, with 6 in my right, partial paralyzation from a spinal injury, bone chips removed from the spinal column, feet with severe arthritis, a couple of concussions, a silent heart attack, cracked some ribs, fractured a wrist, cervical stenosis, osteoarthritis, a cervical spinal tumor, and Parkinson’s.
During the past 35 years, I’ve not known a day without pain. What I learned was how to suck it up, take the pain, sacrifice the body for the good of others, and, if required, for the country. I’m aware of the physical toll of that profession as well as the traveling of my business. Throughout years of travel, I fought through pain while remaining stoic. I felt breaking past the pain proved my inner strength. As such, I accumulated significant damage. Now, all my unscripted life leaves me with is questions.
I cannot begin to express the onslaught of emotions and thoughts that crowds my mind late at night. When told several years ago of only two good years left, did that mean ‘just being alive’ or ‘being full of life?’ If paralysis occurs, when will it happen? Immediately. If I don’t die soon, am I left with only ‘slow death?’ One good thought rushes past one poor one, each pushing the other away, each seemingly waging war for supremacy, just like Job.
I have always believed a life well-lived isn’t free from pain, fear, and risk. Now, God is forcing me to grow positively by living in accordance with my own words. If I were going to die, I must have the courage to presume that God wants me to experience all which is worthwhile. (In business, we call it risk acceptance.)
Irrationally speaking, I honestly believe I was meant to die a long time ago. And yet, somehow, God has allowed me to live longer than expected. For what reason, I am unsure. I still don’t ask, “Why me?” Instead, I only seek truth, meaning, wisdom, and purpose. And what of death? Let me state; there are days when I yearn for death. But I hope that once I leave this body, God will embrace this old bag of bones and help me understand the meaning of my existence, the purpose in my life, and what’s next.