Sunday, 13 September 2015

Keepin’My Walker In The Fast Lane And My Babies on the Sidewalk

My friend, if you have Parkinson's, I can guarantee that you will  experience many more of life's oft-stated inevitables than simply death and taxes. For starters, I can assure you that someday your Neurologist will look you squarely in the eyes and say, “We’d like to do some seismic testing on your noggin -Game??”  I suggest you inquire if they offer the slightly more patient-friendly DBA (Deep Brain Agitation) option instead (or if you are into medical jargon-"DBS Lite"). In this bleeding-edge procedure, they mess around in the brain, but exit without leaving behind any pesky hardware.

Secondly, one day I can assure you that your partner will catch you “faking” (exaggerating) your Parkinsons symptoms likely to avoid an unpleasant event - like attending your partner’s staff Xmas party. “Rather spend an evening at Abu Ghraib,” you say to yourself. If the following sounds like a lecture - that’s because it is. Your credibility as a neurodegenerate is like your reputation -  it is everything. Are you willing to trade it for yet  another evening behind the keyboard?

Thirdly, either you, your insurance plan, or your health spending account will put out an absurd amount of money for a few   4” wheels and a metal frame -- yes, you will get a walker. For many, the walker represents one of the most powerful symbols of weakness that we have. Yes, your life (at least how others view it) will never be the same. Again.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the walker, as it is a rather simple device with four wheels and a frame. However the walker is in need of a significant image overhaul.   My dream walker would look nothing like your Dad’s walker. Mine would look like it belonged more on a construction site and there might be signs everywhere saying:“Protect your subthathalamic nucleus - WEAR A HARDHAT when using your walker”. Mine would be handcrafted by a big burly fellow like Mike Holmes, the construction guy on TV. It would ooze stainless steel,  carbon fibre , and as much tech as we could fit on board.

My team's marketing ads would be of  Super Bowl-quality, containing pickup truck commercial-levels  of testosterone. We’d hire a Malboro-looking kind of guy to be our poster boy. Clint must be close to needing a walker by now. And by golly we’d get the walkers  out of the funny-smelling home-medical supply stores. Nothing dulls  a Manly-man’s spendy wendiness more than seeing the product of his dreams displayed in  between bed-wetting sheets and toilet risers . We’d sell them at Home Depot, placing them between the 24-volt drills and the Milwaukee  nail guns.

And yes, while "Nexen" would seem to be an adequate name, for my steed, we would like to give the boys choices. The fellas that have accepted their condition would likely be content with our bread and butter intro model, the "Neurodegenerator". Others might want to have a name that reflects the trials and tribulations they have gone through - maybe the "Sub-Thalaminator"; Our more sensitive brethren might be interested in a walker name that reflects how it makes them feel  - the "Invalidator",  or the top of the line "Marginalizor".

 From a practical standpoint, despite its name, the walker cannot help me walk. You  see, if I am sans-dopamine - nothing will make those legs move. Then what - praytell - does my walker do? It gets me attention -- sometimes unwanted. I will explain by sharing a few tales  from my recent trip east to visit family.
This was to be the maiden voyage of NEXUS my new walker. I hopped from the car, leaving my wife to park at some distant lot. I continued towards the WestJet check-in noting that there was a substantial line up. What happened next left me surprised, confused, and unsure of what I really wanted.

 The WestJet clerk waved me forward, creating a new line  with me at the front. She had, in essence, jumped the queue for me. I subtlely scanned the others to see whether anyone else had noticed. For the first time, I mentally arm-wrestled with the -quandary of whether I wanted to be treated differently -  notably at a time that I didn’t need it.

I was checked in quickly and rounded the corner to towards security . I noted a very long line for the general public on the left,  and a  much shorter line on the right for "Nexus" (business and frequent travellers). As I approached the  security officer, I pointed to my walker,  branded "Nexus", then pointed to the  priority line-up, then to my chest and smiled. I received the maximum allowable smirk under their current security working agreement. Then surprisingly she motioned me towards the priority “Nexus" side. It was far less busy. 

We passed our trays onwards towards a Second officer whose specialized skill set likely landed her the coveted title of "distributor of the trays...and dispenser of miscellaneous rude gestures and offensive comments. However, her normally razor-sharp ability  to quickly discern full-grown, competent adults who are capable of answering independently from young children, teens who say “whatever”, and small fish, was about to falter. She gave me a look like I was the last available selection for dodgeball and  - then  turned to my wife and asked if "He" (ME)   would be able to walk through without my walker. I was puzzled. While my mini-stroke-induced  speech  impediment might delay my MENSA entry a bit, I had not said anything that she might have heard. Those that are regular readers and are aware that I publish at the prolific rate of about once /month would be none too surprised to learn that I could not come up with a smart-ass answer in adequate time. "Yes, I will be fine, but I would rather smack you over the head with my walker and ride the conveyor belt through…"

 Finally, in order to tiein the latter half of the title to the story, I need to tell you one more fish tale. This story starts in the inky black of my back lane, garbage night. Blogger, an avid recycler and amateur back lane garbage spelunker is excitedly unearthing a major find - a -nearly-whole, well-reserved ”Chariot”,(child carrier, trailer) )estimated to be from the late 90s time period. Blogger nearly wets his pants in excitement as he carries find back to camp. 

 With a little TLC, “Harriet the chariot”  has hauled a myriad of loads, from two rolls of sod, to a 12-pack of beer, to a dozen roses. I was on a run the other day when two cars passed in quick succession  both yelling indecipherables. I finally understood the driver of the third car who shouted,  “Get your baby on the sidewalk!” A phrase which has now becone part of our household lexicon.

 I hear you..."Come on,Blair, wrap this baby up like you usually do - pulling together a bunch of seemingly pointless and rambling threads into one tightly woven conclusion that rivals those god-forsaken Christmas sweaters your Nana used to give you..."

"Hariet the Chariot"

 Of course I could file most of this away in a folder tabbed: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The problem is that being a typical blogger, I don't necessarily  walk the walk - but what is worse -  I write the walk. Example: We had just finished a recent  speech therapy session where I had been videoed. I watched it again in the car and my heart sank as looked at it - slurred syllables and a rolling head, I looked like a cross between Stevie  Wonder and Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. I remarked to my wife of how dumb I looked - adding that if MENSA ever saw the video, my entry would surely be delayed.. How could I justify the piling on I had done with the security officer when I myself deep down maybe wasn’t a whole lot different. Could I be excused for my faux pas because I was both the offender and the victim? Was the only difference between her and myself that I knew what was acceptable to say - irrespective of what I was thinking?

All question to which I do not have answers to. As often seems to be the case with me I have managed to slog through a rather lengthy blog entry, not starting out knowing what I had to say - but rather ending asking what  did I say??

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