Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Friends

Post 55
I drove to Philadelphia Saturday morning to attend a support group for newly diagnosed Parkinson’s people.  The group has been gathering on the second Saturday of the month for some time now, but I didn’t think they would mind if I dropped in.
I’m happy to report that I was warmly welcomed by the group, a collection of people that, upon casual observance, had no apparent reason to be interested in discussing Parkinson’s. We could have been a meeting of the local bird club, except that we forgot our binoculars.
Then we sat down and started to tell our stories. We didn’t talk about birds. We talked about symptoms and prescription meds. We shared our hopes and fears tempered with an abundance of optimism. Everybody had their own story, their own symptoms, suffered their own side effects of medication.
Parkinson’s, it seems, is a very personal journey.  No two people experience the inevitable depletion of dopamine in the same way. During sharing it was clear that there were also different reactions to the diagnosis.  But we weren’t listening for the differences.  We all shared a disease in common, and listened for those things that offered us a better way forward.
In birding, it is often better to go out with a group. There will be someone who can identify the bird that is strange to you, or hear the grouse in the distance and know what it is.  So it is with all groups.  You benefit from their experience and take it home with you.
Thanks for being there, new friends.

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