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One chronic illness is enough

How is it that so many of us not only have Parkinson’s disease, but one or more other chronic, progressive illnesses as well? It seems to me that having one such condition should earn us immunity from the others, but then no one said life is fair, did they? So, are we overachievers, do we make bad lifestyle decisions, or are we just unlucky enough to have “bad genes?” I doubt there is just one answer to this question, any more than there is a single road to living well with chronic illness.   

Arthritis in my knees has become much more of a limiting factor in my life than Parkinson’s, making everything I do more difficult and painful. Never one to test the limits of my body with athletic pursuits (unless you count an occasional round of miniature golf or decades of competitive Scrabble), I have no explanation as to why the cartilage in my knees “went missing” so soon. Bones that used to glide in these joints now grind against each other with every painful step I take. The creaks and groans are loud enough to wake a hibernating bear. 

What is most upsetting is that the arthritis is ruining with what is supposed to be my “levodopa honeymoon,” allowing me to forget that I even have Parkinson’s. It also has brought my lifelong passion — marathon shopping — to a screeching halt. The expression, “Shop ‘til you drop,” has taken on new meaning for me, and not in a good way.

I find myself increasingly dependent on the hand-carved walking stick I chose more for artistic appeal and a basis for starting conversation than anything else. While it does elicit many compliments, I sense strangers looking at me differently, seeing only a person who has something wrong with her. This is not how I define myself, nor want to be defined by others.



Want ad to sell sheryl's knees

After a year of physical therapy and a series of cortisone shots, I have accepted the fact that as hard as I try, I cannot grow new cartilage. So, in mid-August, I’m “off to see the Wizard” for replacement parts — two bionic knees installed six weeks apart. In preparation for this, I’ve listed my “birth knees” for sale online:

Two low mileage knees in excellent condition.
Cartilage missing. Great for parts. Will consider all offers.

I want to make it clear that I am not throwing in the towel. Au contraire. I expect my bionic knees to be better than my birth knees ever were. I’ve still got much I want to do.

Sheryl sitting - her signature at right


email us directly at: Sheryl@pdplan4life.com

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