I’ll drink to that!

Poor Dave Trinder.

The 60 year old English man, it was recently reported, says that he’s insulted or taunted every day by strangers who think he’s drunk. He struggles to walk due to his PD and has met people in the street who wrongly believe it’s because he’s had one too many. Just two weeks ago he was walking along a path when a worried mum told her young children to “get away from him”.

It’s a sad truth that there are many in our communities that don’t know better and are quick to judge. Certainly, this ignorance extends far beyond a judgemental view of PwP (People with Parkinson’s) to many others who are perceived as “different” – for example those with facial disfigurements – the subject of the new movie Wonder.

I empathize with poor Dave but I must admit I just had to laugh when I read the headline of this article:

Screenshot 2017-11-23 20.00.59

I know. At it’s core, this is not funny. Perhaps a tad too dramatic but a sad commentary. And Dave gets it too me thinks. He’s sad, not angry. Yet, when I say I felt compelled to laugh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not condoning such actions. It’s just that personally, I’ve never been “ashamed” or concerned about what others might be thinking. How other people react or what they might be thinking about this “strange” apparition before them is their problem, not mine.

That being said, I am far from oblivious to the odd looks or reactions one gets as a PwP. I’ve noticed the strange glances when I’m in the grocery store or out shopping. I’ve seen the cautious attentiveness that my movement disorder elicits from security personnel at concerts or at the airport. I’ve spotted the stares and clued into the conversations of folks in cars alongside of me – “See that guy shaking Dad! Is that why his license plate says “shakydad'”?

Sometimes, it’s actually an advantage to have a little movement – a dose of dyskenisis or a shot of tremors – just enough to give you a certain swagger! A few years back I was at an outdoor music festival in a beautiful park in Hamilton. I had just bought a bottle of root beer from the food concessions and was walking back through the centre of the park to meet my friends. My dyskenisis was pretty bad on this particular ocassion so, as my arms flailed, and as my steps alternated between lunges and short shuffles, I battled to keep my beverage from spilling everywhere. But I forged ahead. Arms flailing in all directions. Through the throngs of people. Undeterred. Then, I realized what was happening. As I moved forward, and as people saw me coming, this sea of people literally parted to make way for me! Holy Moses! No doubt some of these folks thought I was a crack head or a drunk but it made my traverse across that park a lot easier. As Levon Helm once sang, a drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one!

So, take heart Dave Trinder. You are not alone. Steady yourself against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Carry on and flail away my friend! Cheers!

 

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