Thursday, April 28, 2011

Martha Speaks - Beware the We’s

 Whose disease is this?  I know that when two people share a life, one's abilities or disabilities will affect the activities of both.  The caretaker often must step in to move a shared life along.

The other day, I joined Michael for a breakfast/presentation.  A doctor did a great presentation on PD and the drugs available to help with the disease.  We joined several other couples at a table.  In between bacon slices, I started a conversation with the man across from me.  He has that particular Parkinson’s posture, but I shouldn’t presume......
I opened with a simple question.  “Mr.  J, do you have Parkinson’s? “
“Yes,” his wife replied.  “He was diagnosed about six years ago.”
 I persist, “Mr. J how did your Parkinson’s first manifest itself?”
“We first noticed a tremor in his right hand”, his wife replied, again.
“Oh. “ I said.   Mr.  J continued to look down at his eggs.  Maybe he doesn’t hear well.  I try once again, this time a little louder.   “How did you finally figure out what it was, Mr.  J?” 
He looks up slowly, at me.  His wife begins to answer, but he broke in.  “Well, we didn’t think much about the tremor, but when I began slowing down, we got to the doctor.  The tremor tipped them off.”
After that, the table talk took off.  I notice that several of the partners use “we” in describing things that are happening with “their” patient.  I also notice that Mr. J., as if awakened, is actively participating in the conversation.  Later on, he asks the speaker some good questions.
Parkinson’s is a disease that slows the patient down.  With the best intentions, a caretaker may want to step in to hurry things along, or make things right.  In some cases, our help may further disable our patient.  It took persistence for me to whack through the WEs.  Do we really want to put more barriers in their way?
It was the best lesson I learned that day. 

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