Zero to HERO! chronicles the public spectacle of a dopamine rush, experienced in all the comedic glory that a public setting allows. Learn about a Hulkian transformation from the safety of your living room. The dopamine rush.That wonderful chemical transformation from “Honey, can you open this jar for me”, to “I’m organizing our manhole cover collection - by size, city, or date acquired?” Dopamine… mmmmm. The dopamine replenishing process can be maddeningly unpredictable often leading to humorous results in public. :-) Enjoy!
We parted ways at my gate in plenty of time for the customary triple crown of espresso/a good read/ movie. However, all hell was about to break loose. My iPhone was abuzz with alerts from Vinny in Risk Management indicating that my latest bio-data transmission had put us in code orange. In practical terms, that meant that the boarding process, while still doable, would likely pose significant risk. Risk of bruising, deflation, or worse, requiring long-term psychotherapy. The good news was that it could only be incurred by my sucky male ego with my permission. and that it was totally my choice as to what the extent of the damage would be, if any.
I reviewed my own list of best practices at the gate: Board last if possible, test your gait every few minutes, and if you are going to board in rough shape, you may as well get some drinks before the flight as many will think that you have been drinking anyways :-) (just kidding on this last one (SERIOUSLY just kidding!) Don’t make things any more difficult than they already are.
Boarding call, lines formed, lines disappeared. One last text from Vinny -
"fight or flight" time buddy… Vin
I scanned the gate for anyone that might be involved if I elected for the former. I didn’t have any concerns with Ken and Barbie, the young, buff, twenty-something WestJet employees as I felt confident I could simply distract them with a pair of double half caf venti 3 pump vanilla 3 pump hazelnut soy extra hot no foam with whip and cinnamon sprinkles latte - then render them unconscious with a quad espresso. That would leave me free and clear to… ummmhh… get on my flight :-)
I got up and began to shuffle and stutter-step like a teenager towards the check-in. I wondered whether there were any strategies I could use to distract myself from my obsession with my gait. I might be better off if I had something else to focus on and just left the gait happen. Let's see, word association usually comes up with something useful >>> jet... Jet setter.’. Model... Jetway.. Runway.. Fashion show… Blair's Secret Fallback career choice...Victoria's Secret... Wife always said I could model workboots! Hey! Do they have Victor's Secret? I could…
MR. RASMUSSEN! , You are the last to board. Please head down the runway - ummm, I mean jetway...
As I rounded the corner to the runway a voice started to echo down the tube as I walked
Sasha: Our final entrant in today's show is 1C Rasmussen. Blair is trying to work a two-piece ensemble of an unlaundered red "Calgary Rowing Club” t-shirt with what looks like a pair of Mom issued Walmart jeans with a small spaghetti stain accent and... ewww!
Fabio: You OK?
Sasha: I will be. I just find it so offensive! I didn't think anyone did that anymore - white tube socks with Clarkès leather uppers. Fabio, what are your thoughts, do you think Blair can pull this off?
Fabio: Well, if anyone can it certainly will be Blair. With his superior conditioning and presence - I mean seriously, look at him! Trouble is, he's trying to pull off that size medium shirt and it's just not going well for him. If you look carefully, you will notice that he's given up doing the top button on his jeans. (must have been a good visit ;) Judges will punish him severely for that transgression.
Sasha: You know, we’ve seen this exact situation bring down other talented individuals - if you are going to call yourself a medium, then get yourself back to medium or, recalibrate your image to the new you. Right?
Fabio: I read his blog. If he only trained as much as his mother did his clothes would fit properly either in the overhead bin or under your seat. Thanks for your attention. If you have any questions, Sasha and Fabio will be coming through the cabin shortly.
I struggled to make my way down the ramp. As I turned the corner inside the plane stage fright, I froze, I mean, like, Siberia-like. I was about 6 feet away from my seat, but as far as my current predicament was concerned, it might well have been 6 km.
I flopped into my seat with audible relief. My precious cargo! I had given my rolling carry-on and backpack to the flight attendants without any instruction. The contraband in those bags included 75 pounds of Olde English China. Imagining an impending disaster, I jumped off my seat, poked my head above the seat back, Shouted, “be careful! That’s my families good china, you know!” (They say, one can summon amazing powers of strength in emergency situations, and I totally agree. I would also like to add that just imagining having to tell your mother that you busted 60 years of Olde English China She just gave to you seems to give the same powers as well.)
I turned to greet my neighbor and her head snapped back in the opposite direcion. This continued a few times until I audibly laughed. My assumption was that she thought I was drunk, and that was how she chose to deal with me. I suppose this could have been in opportunity for education, but I was in no mood to be generous to this woman. Before I could poke her with a few funnies [Blair coughs on his sleeve] don’t worry, they say Parkinson’s is only communicable for the first 72 hours - and were already at 60”. She got up, walked over to the flight attendants and had a word with them. She proceeded to change seats, moving to the opposite side of the aisle. Feeling like a leper, I bid my time until Ms. Dopamine arrived. In seconds, I had leapt to my feet and walked past her to the bathroom. The look on her face was priceless.
The gradual degenerative progression of Parkinson’s has many gears, but is seemingly relentless in its direction and intent. While we have a few tools to put the brakes on the disease, medication, exercise, nutrition, meditation, etc, the target keeps moving. The mind can truly work wonders helping you adjust. Yet, it is also capable of incredible sleight-of-hand deception that may not be doing you any favors.
When I started writing this tale, my intent was that it would simply be another public Parkinson’s meltdown, but two seemingly innocuous lines tugged on me in a different direction, The first was the rather absurd images of myself walking around in a pair of pants with the top button undone (hidden by overhanging T-shirt) and trying to make a size medium shirt work for me was sheer stupidity. I haven't been medium in years. I knew that. I know it's a simple observation, but it's pretty powerful for me. I know for some time that I wouldn't go out and take part in certain activities if I wasn't absolutely symptom-free. As in, if there was any hint, absolutely any shred of evidence that I had Parkinson's, I would stay home. Probably the most most telling example was the evening that I was sitting at home mulling about whether I should go or should not go to my Parkinson's support group meeting because I was feeling like I was not going to be on top of my game. Meaning, essentially that didn't want to attend a Parkinson's support group meeting looking like someone who had Parkinson's. I still get a good chuckle when I think of that day. :-)
The long and short of it is, Parkinson's or not, be who you are today. And if you are going to "fake it until you make it" just be aware that that's the game you're playing