Thoreau opens Walden by explaining that he lived in his little cabin by the Pond for two years and two months, then he says, “I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life …I will therefore ask those of my readers who feel no particular interest in me to pardon me if I undertake to answer these questions.”
For about he same amount of time Thoreau lived at Walden I’ve been living with Parkinson’s, and recently ‘very particular inquiries have been made by my congregants concerning my health.’
I ask my readers who feel no particular interest to pardon me if I undertake to answer that question. I addressed the question at the service on Sunday, December 20, when Debra Haffner was snow bound in Miami and I found myself ‘on my own.’ I read from A Christmas Carol, and I introduced the reading by referring to my right-hand tremor, hoping to divert attention from it, so as to focus on Scrooge and company, not my hand.
After the service several folks thanked me. “It’s sometimes the elephant in the corner,” one said, “and you very gently but firmly pushed him out of the room!”
I don’t recall exactly what I said about it, but I decided to address it to an extended audience, since the size of the snow-storm group was limited.
The short answer is that I’m doing fine, health-wise. As to my professional functioning I should leave that to your assessment. Suffice it to say that my work is appropriately challenging and rewarding, which I expect it will be into the foreseeable future.
I would be less than candid if I did not acknowledge that Mr. Parkinson is a most unwelcome guest in my life. He ‘obtrudes himself,’ to use Thoreau’s quaint phrase.
When I asked my neurologist how he, as president of his Temple, would respond if his rabbi informed him that he had Parkinson’s he said, matter-of-factly, “I would say, ‘Tell me when you can’t do your work'” I promise to do so.
The same neurologist strongly recommended that I avoid taking the levodopa meds that would stop the tremor, explaining that once the medication is started the patient begins to build a tolerance and needs more, until, alas, it has little to no effect.
He introduced me to a relatively new medication, Azilect, which by all indications, is effective in slowing the inevitable progress of this degenerative disease. I’ve been taking the Azilect for eighteen months and, by his assessment, ‘it seems to be working.”
Enough about me, how are you doing? May your New Year bring health and happiness.